Audio-tactile pedestrian facilities

Audio-tactile facilities are the push-button systems at traffic signals which give pedestrians signals to show when to cross and not to cross the road. The following guideline details Brisbane City Council's audio-tactile pedestrian facilities standards.

Guidelines for audio-tactile pedestrian facilities

Overview

Signals can be fitted with audio-tactile devices, which can be easily heard, felt and seen by pedestrians with a vision or hearing impairment. Providing this type facility at signals assists mobility for pedestrians with a vision or hearing impediment to cross roads and intersections.

Applicability

This guideline is applied when Council:

  • or a developer is installing new signalised crossings which will have pedestrian facilities
  • receives a written request or, of its own volition, decides to install audio-tactile devices in existing signalised crossings
  • receives a written request or, decides of its own volition, modifies the hours of operation of an existing audio-tactile device

Definitions

Audio-tactile device: a push button system at traffic signals, which when pushed, provides pedestrians with audible signals to indicate when to cross and not to cross the road. The system produces 2 noises. The first a slow pulsing noise, which enables pedestrians to find the push button. The second is an actuated fast pulse which indicates when to cross.

Audible component: a continuous pulse which enables persons with a visual impairment to find the button or a fast pulse which indicates when to cross.

Tactile component: the vibrating pulse within the push button which allows persons with a visual or hearing impairment to find the button.

Guidelines

Access to traffic and signal information is an important feature of traffic signal systems for pedestrians who have vision and hearing impairments.

Audio-tactile signals that consist of both audible and tactile components are used to help pedestrians who have vision and hearing impairments to:

  • locate the relevant push-button assembly for the purpose of registering a pedestrian demand
  • determine when the walk signal is displayed for the crossing

1. Installation of signals at new crossings

Audio-tactile devices will be considered for installation in all new signalised crossings that have pedestrian facilities.

Where a new signalised crossing (with pedestrian facilities) is to be installed, Council will determine whether an audio-tactile device is required at that crossing by considering:

  • road characteristics (ie. type of road, geography of road, existence of footpath ramp, width of road)
  • area use (ie. commercial, residential, rural, special facilities)
  • surrounding signal patterns
  • traffic volume (and effect on ambient noise)
  • number of crossings required
  • budget
  • equipment availability programming of works

Where Council determines that there is a need for an audio-tactile device at the new crossing, the hours of operation of the audio-tactile device may be determined following consultation with the Guide Dogs Association, Visually Impaired Association (VIA), Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) and other affected parties (including residents in close proximity).

2. Installation of audio-tactile devices at existing signalised crossings

Where a signalised crossing (with pedestrian facilities) already exists, Council may consider installing audio-tactile devices upon its own volition or after receiving written application from the Guide Dogs Association, BCA, VIA, or groups who represent the interests of a vision or hearing impaired person, or from members of the public.

The written application should:

  • identify the applicant as either a:
    • person or persons with a visual or hearing impairment
    • an individual or group (such as the Guide Dogs Association, BCA or the VIA) making application on behalf of a person with a visual or hearing impairment
  • explain why the applicant requires an audio-tactile device at a particular signalised crossing
  • identify the probable frequency, and the range of times, that the applicant will be likely to use the pedestrian facilities to determine suitable hours of operation

If these details are not advised on the application, they may be determined through consultation with the applicant.

After receiving an application, Council will consider:

  • the contents of the application document (including any direct consultation with the applicant)
  • road characteristics (ie. type of road, geography of road, existence of footpath ramp, width of road)
  • area use (ie. commercial, residential, rural, special facilities)
  • surrounding signal patterns
  • traffic volume (and effect on ambient noise)
  • proposed hours of operation
  • number of crossings required
  • budget
  • equipment availability
  • programming of works

Where Council decides to install an audio-tactile device at an existing signalised crossing:

  • the audio-tactile device may be retro-fitted to the existing pedestrian facilities at the signalised crossing
  • the hours of operation of the audio-tactile device may be determined following consultation with the Guide Dogs Association, BCA, VIA and other affected parties (including residents proximate to the crossing)

3. Standards

Audio-tactile devices should comply with the Australian Standard AS2353-1999.

4. Site requirements

One audio-tactile device can be fitted to each post. If necessary a push-button post can be installed to avoid mounting two devices on any one post. The audio-tactile push buttons are to be appropriately located to minimise confusion as to which crossing the buttons are associated.

5. Noise nuisance

New audio-tactile device installations should comply with AS2535-1999 so as to minimise noise complaints. Where noise complaints are received, the site should be inspected to establish whether there is a reverberation problem and to ensure microphones are appropriately located to measure the ambient road noise and the microphone setting is appropriate. If the audio-tactile device does not comply with AS2535-1999, the audio-tactile device should be upgraded to comply with AS2535-1999.

Although technology is available to lower the volume of audio-tactile devices to within acceptable ranges for users, the noise emitted by the device during the night can sometimes be a significant noise nuisance for nearby residents.

While Council has an obligation to ensure that any facilities it provides to the public are appropriate having regard to the use to which the facilities are put, this obligation also needs to be appropriately balanced with the amenity of residents and the safety of all pedestrians.

6.  Modifying the operation of audio-tactile pedestrian devices

Council may consider written requests to modify the hours of operation of an existing audio-tactile device (either by disabling the device for a certain period of time or by increasing the hours of operation of the device where the device operates for a period of less than 24 hours per day).

Generally, a request to modify the hours of operation of an existing audio-tactile device would be made with respect to a particular crossing or set of crossings at a particular intersection or location.

In determining whether to modify the hours of operation of an existing audio-tactile device, Council should consider:

  • the basis for request and number of requests
  • noise complaints
  • actual noise levels (measured on site, including ambient noise)
  • noise direction assessment
  • noise nuisance assessment
  • the number of pedestrians with a vision impairment who actually use the crossing devices on a regular basis and at what times of the day or night
  • local institutions eg. 24 hour establishments

These factors may be considered following consultation with the Guide Dogs Association, BCA, VIA and other affected parties (including residents proximate to the crossing).

Details of any modification to the hours of operation of audio-tactile devices should be communicated to relevant stakeholders.

Review Date

These guidelines will be reviewed every 12 months.
 

10 February 2017