Audible crossing signals for the blind now button operated...with written instructions?

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Written by Scott Gilbert

In downtown Guelph and interesting sign caught my eye. It read "Push Button To Activate Audible Signal". I found this to be particularly odd because I understood the signals to be designed specifically for the blind. How are the blind supposed to read the sign?

This reminds me of when my girlfriend's father joked that rumble strips on country roads loading up to stop signs are to alert blind drivers of a stop sign ahead.

Several cities have these audible signals in place and in many cases residents in the area complain about them going all night and keeping them awake. But couldn't we find some common ground where the signals only come on when someone is actually at the intersection, or regulate them to only beep a fraction above the decibel level of background noise so that local residents aren't bothered, but the blind can still make reasonable use of them?

Am I missing something? Thoughts anyone?

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  1. Posted by: Just a Thought on Nov 20, 2008 @ 6:03pm

    Just a comment about the first part of your article. Someone can be considered legally blind (and have significant challenges with sight) without being entirely blind. For example, people with a visual field of less than 20 degrees diameter (10 degrees radius) are considered legally blind. Thus, someone might be able to read that sign up close, but find it extremely difficult to see the walking man to signal that they are able to cross. So while it might seem silly upon first glace, it actually does make sense.

  2. Posted by: Victoria on Nov 20, 2008 @ 7:12pm

    It is interesting that these signs do not include braille instructions for those individuals who don't even possess a little bit of sight.

  3. Posted by: Scott on Nov 24, 2008 @ 8:40am

    Thanks "Just a thought" for the insight. This didn't occur to me, and is an excellent point.

  4. Posted by: Taylor on Nov 24, 2008 @ 1:10pm

    The audible signals in most parts, I think, just make that blip-blip sound unless you hold the button down for 3+ seconds, in which case when the walk signal goes on, it starts chirping loudly.
    The blipping is to help blind people find the button, I assume, and the chirping to help them cross the street.
    Some of them even have little robotic voices that say "The walk sign is now on"!
    I only know this because I'm impatient at crosswalks so I push/hold the button in hopes it'll let me cross faster.

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