This article about Accessible Pedestrian Signals ran in the Boston Globe yesterday.
Advocates Urge City to Fix APS
Accessible signals are new to many traffic engeneers. Our program in San Francisco is fortunate because we had buy in from the highest levels that accessible pedestrian signals are going to be done right and that they are a priority for San Francisco. Our signal shop can now repair and install new signals quickly. This is also in part due to the complaint system that was established through the city's 311 call center.
The city's APS policy can be found at: http://www.sfmta.com/cms/wproj/aps.htm
For an APS program to run well, it requires a commitment from folks who use the signals, traffic engeneers, and urban planners.
"I have been involved in the San Francisco disability rights community for 10 years. When I started, San Francisco had one accessible pedestrian signal, located at San Francisco State University. There are now over 60 intersections with APS units. The audiotactile information that APS provide about the Walk cycle is something I have spoken about a great deal in public meetings. I truly feel that APS are an important part of the civic infostructure. (I may be coining the word "infostructure" in this article, but I don't mean "infrastructure." There is a complex web of information provided by public entities in all public places. As a blind person, I need as much access to that information as I can get.)
"Although I had known of the political, safety, and civil rights importance of APS for many years, the meaning of APS in my own life crystallized for me only eight months ago when I got off the streetcar mistakenly at the wrong stop. I was going to a new place and miscounted the number of stops to my destination. So here I was in an unfamiliar place, completely blind and in the middle of a busy street trying to orient myself. The streetcar stops on an island in the middle of the street. I could hear the locator tone on the Polara Navigator beaconing sound. I found the unit, read the braille on the unit, and was immediately able to determine what streets I was at. I decided to walk the rest of my route to my destination. The APS units along my journey enabled me to double check the names of streets and cross with the Walk cycle on streets that were unfamiliar to me. I got a little more exercise that morning and wasn't even late for my appointment! It was the first time I have ever felt like I live in a fully accessible community."
Stories like these must be shared with traffic engineers across the country who may not yet be familiar with the importance of APS installations.
Access World Article
The San Francisco APS settlement agreement and related documents are available on Lainey Feingold's web site, http://LFLegal.com. The direct link to the settlement agreement is http://lflegal.com/2007/05/sf-aps-agreement. The APS technical specifications can be found at http://lflegal.com/2007/05/sf-aps-agreement/2.