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Safer Streets for Disabled Persons

Published: Monday, February 25, 2008 - 23:00

(ISO: Geneva) -- Equipping pedestrian street crossings with acoustic and tactile signals to help disabled persons was a step forward. The problem is that they vary from one country to another. Now, a new ISO standard provides the basis for harmonizing such signals on a worldwide basis.

The aim of ISO 23600—“Assistive products for persons with vision impairments and persons with vision and hearing impairments—Acoustic and tactile signals for pedestrian traffic lights” is to ensure equivalent information worldwide at intersections equipped with pedestrian crossing signals. The standard sets out the requirements, technical specifications, and performance criteria for acoustic and tactile signals for pedestrian traffic lights and will help to ensure major benefits such as:

  • Harmonized criteria for manufacturers and designers
  • Safe, reliable, and functional products
  • Enhanced compatibility between products
  • Common testing methods leading to comparable, reliable test results.

Acoustic and tactile signals should be used in combination to provide information such as precise directional information and the geometry of the intersection. The signals could feature the following for disabled persons:

  • Presence and location of a push button
  • Location of a pedestrian crosswalk
  • Walk initiation period
  • Direction of the pedestrian crosswalk
  • Prohibited walk initiation period.

At an intersection that isn’t equipped with acoustic and tactile signals, persons with vision impairments are forced to use the sounds of vehicular traffic when possible to estimate the time to start crossing a street and to determine their direction of travel.

In the case of persons with vision and hearing impairments, the majority of these people have to rely on assistance. The installation of acoustic and tactile signals for pedestrian traffic lights based on ISO 23600 significantly improves the ability of these persons to travel safely and independently.

ISO 23600 was prepared by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 173—“Assistive products for persons with disability.”

For more information, visit www.iso.org/iso/pressrelease.htm?refid=Ref1112.


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