Accessible Pedestrian Signals (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, Section 4A.02).

Accessible Pedestrian Signal — A device that communicates information about the WALK phase in audible and vibrotactile formats (Draft PROWAG, R105.5).

Note that the Draft PROWAG definition states that an APS provides information in both audible and vibrotactile formats, while the MUTCD says audible "and/or" vibrating surfaces.

Figure 1-1. Examples of pushbutton-integrated APS from various manufacturers

Other terms

APS are known by different names in different countries:

Major functions of APS

APS can provide information to pedestrians about:

Benefits of APS

Research has found that APS improved crossing performance by blind pedestrians

Sighted pedestrians also begin crossing faster.

See Appendix C for details of research.

Use in the U.S.

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:

In the past ten years, changes in intersection design and signalization (see Chapter 3) 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. These changes have lead to more requests for APS and advocacy for their installation in recent years.

In addition, developments in technology have occurred. New types of APS have become available in the United States that provide more information and have addressed some of the previous noise concerns.

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 Chapter 10, International Practice.

[back to top]