The city of Houston is improving safety and access to help people with vision loss cross street intersections in the downtown area.
Houston Public Works has installed Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) with audible sounds, vibrations and messages to assist people crossing an intersection. The audio alerts commuters when the “walk” interval begins and ends.
The signal installations will be complete in time for the National Federation of the Blind for its 2023 National Convention in downtown Houston this July. The event is considered one of the largest gatherings of people who are blind in the world.
Houston Public Works is also working to add braille messaging to the Accessible Pedestrian Signals in the future.
Signs and push buttons are placed along traffic signal poles at intersections surrounding the George R. Brown Convention Center (see map below). Accessible Pedestrian Signals were previously located near the METRORail along Main Street.
Features of accessible push buttons:
- Audible beeping while “walk” sign is activated
- Push buttons vibrate when “walk” sign is activated
- Tactile arrows to indicate direction of crosswalk
“People who are blind or have low vision commute regularly and are vulnerable when they are traveling in busy areas, crossing streets, and navigating traffic and infrastructure that is lacking,” said Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Director, Angel Ponce. “Creating a safer, more accessible landscape that benefits not only our constituents but the thousands of people that visit our city every year is important and play a vital role in the safety and accessibility of our city.”
“Houston Public Works’ purpose is ‘Together we create a strong foundation for Houston to thrive.’ We’re living our purpose by increasing accessibility for members in our community that have been historically overlooked,” said Houston Public Works Director Carol Haddock.