Introduction

Accessible Pedestrian Signal or APS is a device that provides auditory, tactile, or visual information to assist pedestrians with visual or hearing impairments in crossing the street safely. APS are known by different names in different countries, some of those names include:

  • Acoustic signals
  • Audio-tactile signals
  • Audible traffic signals
  • Audible pedestrian traffic signals
  • Audible crossing indicators

These signals are typically installed at signalized intersections and can include helpful features such as audible tones, speech messages, vibrating surfaces, or high-contrast visual displays. These systems were initially created for individuals with disabilities to navigate traffic intersections by providing them access to the information indicated by the visual WALK signal and the timed interval that sighted pedestrians receive when they should begin crossing the street.

 

Why Do We Need APS?

APS devices are mandated. PROWAG has mandated (Section R209.1- R209.2) that all new intersections require APS, OR for existing signals, APS will be added if the signal controller and software are altered, or if the signal head is replaced, OR if a vision-impaired pedestrian requests APS.

 

What Does An APS Do?

The primary function of APS is to provide visually impaired pedestrians access to the same information that sighted pedestrians receive when crossing the street. This includes the status of the crosswalk (Walk, Don’t Walk, the flashing Don’t Walk), the crosswalk’s direction, the destination curb’s location, and the street names on the intersection. However, in the age of social and technological distractions, an APS device is not just for the visually impaired but for all pedestrians. In 2020 there were 6,516 pedestrians killed in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, that is 18 pedestrians a day and 125 pedestrians a week.  Making APS push button a solution for all pedestrians.

The benefits of an APS are:

  • An APS offers a safer way of crossing the street by providing clear and consistent cues for crossing the street.
  • APS devices make street crossings more accessible for individuals with hearing or visual impairments, ensuring they can participate fully in pedestrian activities and promoting inclusivity.
  • APS devices provide information about the interaction layout and direction of travel which helps individuals with visibility impairments orient themselves in the environment.
  • By creating consistent devices that meet the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control (MUTCD) and Public Rights of Way Accessibility Guidelines (PROWAG) standards. This helps pedestrians with disabilities to understand their functionality across different locations.

 

How Do They Work?

It is important for individuals with disabilities to receive proper training on how to use and interpret APS signals effectively. This training helps them understand the signals, their meanings, and how to navigate the street crossings.

APS sends out a locator tone that sounds like a beep, which alerts visually impaired pedestrians to the presence of the push button. Once they arrive at the push button, they can use the raised tactical arrow on the push button to confirm the direction they want to go. Immediately as the button is pushed, an audible message saying “Wait” will sound. Once the walk interval begins, it will say “Walk sign is on” or “Cross at [insert street names] or there will be a rapid beeping sound. The push button will also vibrate during the walk interval for those who are hearing impaired. Check out how to use our newest innovative design, the Guardian Wave.

 

How Can PedSafety Help?

PedSafety is here to offer accessible pedestrian stations featuring innovative designs and state-of-the-art technology. Contact us today to discuss what options are the best fit for you or reach out to your local distributor.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) stand as a crucial technological advancement in promoting inclusivity and safety for pedestrians, particularly those with visual or hearing impairments. This comprehensive device, known by various names worldwide, offers auditory, tactile, and visual information at signalized intersections. APS was initially developed to empower individuals with disabilities, providing them access to vital information comparable to that received by sighted pedestrians during street crossings. The need for APS is underscored by regulatory mandates such as those outlined in PROWAG, ensuring their incorporation in new intersections or existing signals undergoing alterations or replacements. Beyond legal obligations, the societal importance of APS becomes evident when considering the alarming pedestrian fatality statistics. In 2020 alone, 6,516 pedestrians lost their lives in the United States, emphasizing the universal significance of APS in enhancing pedestrian safety.

The multifaceted functionality of APS goes beyond serving the visually impaired; it benefits all pedestrians. By offering clear and consistent cues for crossing streets, making crossings accessible for individuals with disabilities, and providing information on layout and direction, APS fosters an inclusive pedestrian environment. Adhering to standards such as the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control and Public Rights of Way Accessibility Guidelines ensures the consistency and reliability of these devices across diverse locations.

Understanding how APS works is imperative, especially for individuals with disabilities who rely on them. Proper training on APS signals enables users to interpret and utilize them effectively, from recognizing the locator tone to navigating the tactile arrow and understanding the various audible messages during different phases of crossing. The continuous evolution of APS technology, exemplified by innovations like The Guardian Wave, reflects an ongoing commitment to enhancing accessibility and safety for pedestrians of all abilities. As we move forward, embracing and advancing such technologies will undoubtedly contribute to creating more inclusive and pedestrian-friendly urban environments.