Accessible Pedestrian Signals

About Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS)

What is an Accessible Pedestrian Signal?

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) defines an Accessible Pedestrian Signal as “a device that communicates information about pedestrian timing in nonvisual format such as audible tones, verbal messages, and/or vibrating surfaces.” (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices 2009, Section 1A.13, par 03)

Why are they needed?

Changes in intersection design and signalization, as well as the presence of quiet cars, have affected the traditional street crossing techniques used by pedestrians who are blind or visually impaired, making the pedestrian phase harder to recognize without seeing the visual pedestrian signal. APS provide the same information that is provided by the visual pedestrian signal in an audible and vibrotactile format, providing access to the pedestrian signals for pedestrians who are blind.

Detailed information on APS:

Report published by National Cooperative Highway Research Program Project 3-62 in 2008: Accessible Pedestrian Signals: A Guide to Best Practice. NCHRP Web-Only Document 117A.

Accessible Pedestrian Signals: A Guide to Best Practice is available in html format at

See also: APS Features, APS Installation Recommendations, APS Resources & APS PowerPoint Presentation

San Francisco APS agreement

The blind community and the city of San Francisco signed a historic agreement on APS in 2007. The City committed to install APS at 80 intersections and to spend 1.6 million dollars installing APS. As of March, 2009, the work has been done on approximately 70 intersections and over 650 APS units have been installed. The city is following technical specifications negotiated as part of the agreement.

The following resources are available on Lainey Feingold’s website:
San Francisco APS Technical Specifications
San Francisco full APS agreement
Press release announcing the San Francisco Agreement
AccessWorld Article on San Francisco Agreement