Having trouble crossing the street? The university has made it easier than ever, thanks to the installation of three new Accessible Pedestrian Signals at various crosswalks on campus.
The APSs differ from normal signals by vibrating and emitting sharp tones to guide pedestrians safely across the street. The type of tone depends on the direction of the crossing signal, and the frequency of the vibrations indicates how much time is left for pedestrians to cross.
“The signals are designed to provide the same information that is offered by the visual pedestrian signals in an audible format, enhancing accessibility for visually-impaired pedestrians,” Roy Langille, associate vice-president of Facilities Management, explained.
“There are two features of the APSs that enhance accessibility,” Langille explained. “The first is the push button with the tactile arrow that points in the direction of the crossing and vibrates when used. Visually-impaired patrons will press and hold the button, activating the second feature, the audible signal.”
“Depending on the direction, the signal will create a distinct sound, alerting patrons that the intersection is ready to cross,” he continued.
The installation of the new signals at the Western and Elgin, Western-and Wellington, and University and Perth intersections is meant to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, a new legislation that aims for increased convenience for people with disabilities in the built environment.
“We are committed to removing barriers and achieving accessibility for persons with disabilities in a number of key areas, but keep in mind the accessibility act itself is still quite new,” Langille said. “The Built Environment standards are still being drafted, so the work we are doing now is above and beyond any current requirements.”
The University Students’ Council applauded the installation of the new signals.
“Having this kind of assistive technology is definitely a plus for students, and for continuing accessibility on campus,” Alysha Li, vice-president university affairs for the USC, explained. “For somebody who has a visual impairment, these APS signals would be able to better guide him or her across the street than a regular button.”
“The university is quite open to hearing suggestions about making campus more accessible,” Li said. “When we find something about accessibility that needs to be addressed, we are definitely able to bring it to them.”
Facilities Management said all crosswalks on campus would feature an APS by August 2013.