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Go to Front page Background section Travel by Blind
How the Blind Cross Streets
Rules & Regulations
Technologies and Features section Types
Walk Indications
Other Features
Choosing and Installing section Where to Install
Designing Installations
New Construction or Reconstruction
Retrofitting an Intersection with an APS
Installation Specifications
Field Adjustments
State of Practices section Case Studies
International Practice
Devices section Manufacturers
Selection Tool
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Downloads section Full Guide
Rating Scales
Field Adjustments

Accessible Pedestrian Signal (APS)

What is an APS
Accessible Pedestrian Signal - a device that communicates information about pedestrian timing in nonvisual format such as audible tones, verbal messages, and/or vibrating surfaces. (MUTCD 2000, Section 4A.01)

Other terms
APS are known by different names in different countries:
  • Acoustic signals
  • Audio-tactile signals
  • Audible pedestrian signals
  • Audible pedestrian traffic signals
  • Audible traffic signals
  • Audible crossing indicators
Major functions of APS
APS can provide information to pedestrians about:
  • Existence of and location of the pushbutton
  • Beginning of the Walk interval
  • Direction of the crosswalk and location of the destination curb
  • Clearance interval
  • Intersection geometry through maps, diagrams, or speech
  • Intersection street names in Braille, raised print, or speech
  • Intersection signalization
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Use in US
Although audible crossing indicators have been available for over 25 years, they have not been commonly installed in the United States. This is probably attributable to two factors:
  • Noise pollution and consequent community opposition
  • Disagreement among blind people on the need for and effectiveness of audible pedestrian signals
More recently, changes in intersection design and signalization have affected the traditional street crossing techniques used by blind pedestrians, making the pedestrian phase harder to recognize without seeing the visual pedestrian signal. In addition, it has become essential to cross during the pedestrian phase at many intersections.

The following programs and regulations have led to increased installation of APS:
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, requiring state and local governments to provide access to their programs, including use of public rights-of-way
  • TEA-21, directing that audible pedestrian signals, where appropriate, be included in new transportation plans and projects
  • Millennium Edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), providing specifications for accessible pedestrian signals and accessible pushbuttons.
Use in other countries
In Japan, Australia and some European countries, APS have been routinely installed at many intersections for at least 20 years.

Information about policies in these countries is included in the International Practice section.

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