walkinginfo.org Logo Go to contents of page
APS home go to front of Accessible Pedestrian Signals
Go to Front page Background section Travel by Blind
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
Product Matrix
Downloads section Full Guide
Rating Scales
Field Adjustments

Pushbuttons, tactile arrows, vibrating surfaces and signs

Need for detailed engineering drawings and specifications
Engineering drawings for installations should include location of pushbuttons, tactile arrows, vibrating surfaces, and signs of the APS devices. The location of these features affects the safety and usability of the devices.

Height of pushbuttons
The pushbutton must be within accessible reach range of a level landing for use from a wheelchair and no higher than 42 inches measured from the landing. Without detailed specifications, pushbuttons may be installed in locations that are 'convenient' to the installer, but not usable by pedestrians.
This pushbutton may be 42 inches from the bottom of the pole, but it is almost 60 inches above the landing, not accessible to a wheelchair user and not likely to be located by a person who is blind. Not only is the pushbutton in the bushes, construction barriers have been stored against the pole, preventing pedestrians from reaching the pushbuttons.

Vibrating surfaces
Vibration-only devices are not recommended. However, many APS have vibrating surfaces that can be useful in confirming the audible WALK indication and in providing WALK signal information to pedestrians with visual impairment plus hearing loss. If used, designers/engineers and installers must remember that the vibrating surface will be usable only if they are installed within the width of the crosswalk or very near the crosswalk, and near the curb line. Pedestrians must be able to wait to cross while keeping a hand on the vibrating surface.

Location of the tactile arrow
If poles are located too far away from the center of the intersection, outside the extension of the crosswalk lines, the pedestrian who is blind may attempt to cross at a location that is not within the crosswalk area.

Pedestrians may align with the tactile arrow and proceed to the curb from that location.

The installation shown below is more than five feet from the crosswalk lines extended. While the arrow does clarify which street the device controls, it provides misleading information as well.

Stub poles or other solutions should be evaluated to position the arrow more appropriately. If the pole location cannot be adjusted, moving the speaker for the WALK indication to a location closer to the crosswalk, by use of a mast arm, might help the pedestrian who is blind recognize the appropriate crossing location.
If pedestrians proceed directly to the curb from the pushbutton in this photo, they will be well outside the crosswalk area when beginning their crossing.

Orientation of tactile arrow
The tactile arrow must be oriented parallel to the direction of the crosswalk controlled by the pushbutton.

Arrows on several manufacturers' devices are positioned by the installer. However, with some devices, the direction of arrow is specified when ordering the units. Pole location in relation to the crosswalk can affect the arrow direction.
The direction of the cast-in-place arrow on this device must be specified when ordering.

Shape and type of mounting pole
US municipalities use a great variety of poles for mounting pedheads and pushbuttons. When the tactile arrow is part of the pushbutton and located on the face of the pushbutton integrated device, the orientation of the device on the pole determines whether the tactile arrow is aligned with the crosswalk.

Most pushbutton integrated devices are designed to be installed on round poles. Poles that are not round may require a special mounting bracket or shim to orient the arrow correctly.

Additional information on installation is included in the Field Adjustments section.
Well located APS on a square pole. Poorly located APS on a round pole points into the intersection. A mounting bracket or shim is needed on this square pole to orient the arrow properly. Without it, the arrow points to the center of the intersection.

Wooden poles
In areas where pushbuttons are installed on wooden poles, the wiring usually runs on the outside of the pole. A mounting bracket is needed on some devices for wiring the pushbutton. The bracket needs to be ordered with the APS.
Mounted on the wooden pole, an additional mounting bracket is installed to allow the wires to run from conduit into the top of the pushbutton-intergrated device. Typical installation without extra mounting plate, with wire running from inside metal pole into the back of the device.

Pedestrians who are blind in Charlotte, NC have expressed concerns about nails and staples that are common in wooden poles and the hazard in having to use their hands to locate the button. There has been some investigation there into designing a shield for the pole area near the pushbutton to solve that problem.
Wooden pole with nails and staples that are typical and source of concern. Coated canvas shield used in Charlotte NC.

Stub poles
The use of stub poles for mounting pedestrian pushbuttons is common in some areas of the US. This provides an opportunity to site the pushbutton where it is most usable to pedestrians and may improve pedestrian compliance with pushbutton use.
A stub pole is used to site the pushbutton beside the sidewalk.
Stub pole installed near sidewalk signal box simplifies wiring and locates ped pushbutton by the crosswalk.
Detail of bolts.
Stub pole example. Detail of bolts.

Braille labels and signs
Braille label is 
              below the raised print street name.
Braille label is below the raised print street name.
Before ordering APS with Braille labels on the faceplate, you must know:
  • The location of the pole
  • Which side of the pole the APS will be mounted on
The direction of the face plate and associated arrow is determined when the raised dots of Braille are added. Braille is generally just punched into the metal plate.

topup arrow

  << previous page  |  next page >>
spacer image
This site was developed under the sponsorship of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program.