More than a decade after the City of Vancouver introduced wheelchair-friendly ramps to all intersection crossings, another accessibility improvement is now being considered 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 could be 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 first 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.

Similar APS push buttons are already in use in several municipalities elsewhere in Metro Vancouver, as well as numerous cities around the world.