The installation of Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) is an increasingly important use of evolving technology as a way to provide pedestrians who are blind or have low vision with information needed to cross streets and intersections. The use of various recognizable tones and messages is aimed at providing the same information to pedestrians with disabilities as pedestrian-activated signal would provide to other pedestrians.
In 2006, the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) committed to making all pedestrian activated (push-button) signals APS signals, within 10 years. This would include retrofitting existing signals and newly constructed signals, as well as signals installed or rebuilt by developers as a condition of access onto state roads and at the request of people with disabilities to address specifically identified needs. Thus, MDOT SHA developed a broad-based program to install 1,250 APS by 2016. This number has increased to more than 1,600 signals since that time. There is significant emphasis on this program within MDOT SHA because it is aimed at universal access.
Note that the information is NOT intended to alert a pedestrian that it is safe to cross; rather, the APS provides information about the conditions and status (red/green) of the signal at the intersection. The pedestrian, with the information in hand, is ultimately responsible for making the crossing decision based on the totality of information available, including training and the use of other audible cues such as hearing the direction of moving traffic. Pedestrians who are blind or have low vision may wish to contact local Orientation and Mobility instructors for training at particularly complex intersections.
If a specific APS is not be functioning properly, contact MDOT SHA through the Customer Care Management System.
Technical information on location and installation may be found in
MDOT SHA Accessibility Policy and Guidelines for Pedestrian Facilities Along State Highways. If you want the location of APS devices installed under this program or an installation schedule, contact the Traffic Engineering Design Division, at 410-787-4027.