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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

APS in the US

APS but no regulations
Although there are reports of audible pedestrian signals in the US as early as 1920, they were not included in US standards and regulations until MUTCD 2000.
  • Common devices were bells or buzzers designed by engineers in response to a request from individuals who were blind.
  • Earliest reported installations were near schools for the blind.
APS first mass marketed
Mid 1970's
  • Cuckoo/chirp pedhead mounted signals, based on a Japanese system, were marketed in the US
  • Other types of devices developed in Europe and Australia (see chapter 4 international experience, Sweden and Australia) were unknown in the US.
Controversy over their use
Complaints about noise of the signals from residents living near installations

Disagreements among two main consumer groups of blind people over the need for APS
  • American Council of the Blind (ACB) supported use of APS to provide additional information
  • National Federation of the Blind (NFB) opposed all use of APS
Changes in traffic and signalization
As discussed in Changes in the travel environment, changes in traffic and signalization affected the ability of pedestrians who are blind to cross streets using traffic sounds.

More requests for APS
With the changes in signalization, and their effect on travel by pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired, advocacy in favor of APS increased.
  • Position of NFB, which had opposed all APS, changed to state that there are some locations where APS are needed.
  • The professional organization of orientation and mobility specialists, Division 9 (O&M;) of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired advocated for APS.
  • New types of devices became available which addressed some of the noise concerns.
  • A number of cities established a formal process for acting on requests for APS.
Federal policy developments

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 - required non-discrimination in federally funded programs.

Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) - civil rights legislation requiring programs and facilities to be accessible to persons with disabilities

Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991 and Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) of 1998 call for mainstreaming pedestrian projects into the planning, design and operation of the nation's transportation system.

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