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Accessible pedestrian signals (APS) that combine audible and vibrotactile signals to a blind or visually impaired and/or disabled pedestrian for both locational and navigational information are available for purchase and installation “off the shelf”. APS systems that have a locating tone produce an audible language statement when it is safe to begin crossing the intersection as well as a vibrating activation button for the hard of hearing and an audible status count-down for the crossing pedestrian are available now. Purdue University has retrofitted two campus intersections with audible, vibrotactile APS and the intersections are regularly used by blind students. Discussions with the West Lafayette technician assigned to maintain the signals has indicated that the APS buttons alone are much more robust than the standard small buttons at non APS intersections. If an intersection already has traffic signal lights, the cost to install a two wire Polara® APS on the four corners would be approximately $500.00 per corner for hardware plus the labor of two men for about four hours. The total cost is certainly a very small percentage of the costs to renovate an existing traffic signal intersection involving new lights, pavement, curbs, gutters and storm drains, etc. Presentations to a number of blind organizations throughout Indiana regarding APS over the duration of this research project have uncovered a real need by the blind for pedestrian intersection navigational hardware. However, a seminar given to engineers from the traffic signal division of INDOT indicates that the lack of a national standard for such APS hardware is a serious impediment to the installation of APS at intersections designated as Indiana state highways. It is the engineering opinion of this author that until a national standard is published by the Federal Access Board, the installation of Accessible Pedestrian Signals on Indiana state highway right-of-ways will not happen. Discussion with the new vice-chair and a staff member of the United States Access Board at a recent national ADA conference in Miami, Fl, lead to their prediction that a national standard is about three years away. This is disappointing to the blind community since accessible pedestrian signals at problematic intersections will prevent injuries and save lives.


APS, accessible pedestrian signals, intersections, blind Indiana pedestrians, SPR-2946

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Joint Transportation Research Program

Publisher Place

West Lafayette, IN

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