Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS), formerly known as audible pedestrian signals, advise pedestrians who are blind, visually impaired, or deaf-blind when they have the right-of-way to cross at a signalized intersection and in which direction they may cross the intersection. As of May 26, 2023 1,219 signalised intersections in Toronto are equipped with APS. Between 20-30 existing signalised intersections are upgraded each year with APS. APS is installed at all new signalised intersections.
Requests for the installation of APS can be made in three ways:
When a request for APS at a signalised intersection is received, the request will be placed on a waiting list for implementation within 12 months assuming the following:
Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) are linked to the visual pedestrian signals. The APS advise the blind, visually impaired, and deaf-blind when they have the right-of-way to cross the street at a signalized intersection and in which direction they may cross the intersection.
Two audible tones are used to indicate the direction in which the pedestrian has the right-of-way.
At Pedestrian Priority Phase (PPP) signals, the APS operates automatically. At other signalized intersections, a pedestrian pushbutton must be pushed and held for at least three seconds. If the button is not held down for at least three seconds, the audible sound will not be activated even though the walking person display appears.
Some signals are equipped with left-turn green arrow phases. During this phase the visual walk is displayed on the non-conflicting side. The audible tones will not come on until the left-turn phase has ended and both visual walk displays are on. This is to avoid pedestrians, who are blind or visually impaired, from mistaking the audible tone on the non-conflicting side for the conflicting side.
In addition to the “cuckoo”, “chirp” (or “Canadian Melody”) sounds, signalised intersections (with APS) are equipped with a continuous tone called a “locator tone.” This tone is emitted from the pushbuttons to assist pedestrians, who are blind or visually impaired, in locating the pushbuttons. Pushbuttons are equipped with a raised arrow that points in the direction of travel. This arrow vibrates when the APS sounds are activated.
The APS sounds and locator tones automatically adjust to ambient sound levels. Therefore, during peak traffic conditions, they may sound louder; overnight they drop to their lowest volume level.
If you notice that an APS device is not adjusting to the ambient sound levels, a pushbutton is “stuck”, or a pushbutton is not working, you can call 311 and advise 311 of your concern. A maintenance crew will be dispatched to correct the problem.
Sample chirp sound:
Sample cuckoo sound:
Sample locator tone:
Sample Canadian Melody sound:
In 1997, the City started a new program to provide better service to the blind and visually impaired community who find it difficult to cross the roads at signalized intersections. In order to service the needs of this community we had to sensitize ourselves to their unique needs such as:
All of these features may not be important for pedestrians with normal vision; however, they are significant aids to the blind and visually impaired. The locations of existing poles at most signalized intersections do not meet the needs of the blind and visually impaired. Therefore, our program to install APS would require the relocation of existing poles or the installation of new “mini”-poles.
Relocating existing poles is more costly than installing new “mini” ones. Sometimes the City’s infrastructure may be attached to other agencies’ poles (e.g. Toronto Hydro poles) and relocating these poles may not be an option. Existing poles that are located in the proper locations are reused for the installation of the APS devices.
When installing new signals, we ensure that the poles are placed in such a way that, if the APS feature were to be installed, the installation of additional poles would not be necessary (except in exceptional circumstances).