Blind and deaf-friendly crosswalk push buttons increasingly installed in Vancouver

Jul 4 2019, 11:27 pm

More than a decade after the City of Vancouver began introducing wheelchair-friendly ramps to intersection crossings, another accessibility improvement is now being gradually rolled out on a citywide basis.

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According to Winston Chou, manager of traffic and data management for the City of Vancouver, new accessible pedestrian signal (APS) push buttons are being introduced across the city, becoming the new standard for signal-controlled crosswalks.

APS assists individuals who are deaf, blind, and visually impaired, as the crosswalk push buttons include tactile locator tools for pedestrians with challenges with sight and hearing.

Push buttons with raised arrows point the direction of travel, and the arrow vibrates when the APS is activated.

Additionally, the audible locator is located lower, closer to the level of pedestrians and particularly those in a wheelchair. Supplementing the “cuckoo” and “chirping” sounds when pedestrians are allowed to cross, a continuous tone is also emitted to assist pedestrians in locating the push buttons.

Vancouver’s newest APS push buttons were recently installed at the intersection of Hornby Street and Robson Street in downtown Vancouver as part of the all-walk pedestrian crossing trial.

The city says it began installing APS push buttons at least five years ago, with approximately 30 locations now equipped. APS push buttons are now the default equipment in most scenarios.

Other municipalities elsewhere in Metro Vancouver, and numerous cities around the world, also use APS push buttons.

Vancouver pedestrian signal crosswalk

New accessible pedestrian signal push buttons in Vancouver. (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

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Editor’s note: This article has been edited with new information and context on Vancouver’s introduction of APS push buttons and wheelchair-friendly crosswalk ramps.