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Friday, June 24, 2016

New technologies increase accessibility for pedestrians

Most Calgarians are familiar with the chirping sound that accompanies the pedestrian walk signal at many of Calgary’s intersections. These sounds are referred to as an accessible pedestrian signal (APS), and they help pedestrians with visual impairments to safely cross the street. Currently, there over 150 accessible pedestrian signals across Calgary. A new pilot program is hoping to add a few more intersections to that list, and use new technologies to make Calgary intersections more accessible.

The City is piloting new accessible pedestrian signal technology at six different intersections across the city. New features include:
  • A locator tone, which is a soft audible beeping sound. It will always be on to help visually impaired pedestrians identify a crosswalk with accessible features.
  • Arrows that will indicate to pedestrians which direction they are crossing. The arrows have tactile features and vibrate when the walk signal is on, which helps pedestrians who are hearing impaired.
  • Audible tones that automatically adjust to ambient noise. Currently APS are only programmed to be used during certain hours of the day to minimize disruption to nearby residents overnight. Automatic adjustments to ambient sound will allow the APS to be activated at all times.
Project manager Janet Ho says the project will benefit all Calgarians. “These new signals are a simple and effective way to make the city more accessible. Everyone should feel safe when they’re crossing the street, and these new accessible signals will help with that.”

Two of the six new signals have been installed, with four more to be put in shortly. Over the next three months, the City will monitor how the new signals are being used to evaluate how the program will move forward.

You can find the new APS located at:
  • Northmount Drive and 4 Street N.W.
  • 12 Avenue S.W. and 9 Street S.W.
  • 13 Avenue S.W. and 4 Street S.W.
  • Richmond Road and 50 Street S.W.
  • 7 Avenue S.E. and 1 Street S.E.
  • Riverbend Gate/Riverglen Drive and 18 Street S.E.

For more information about the new signals, visit

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