Audible beaconing


Audible beaconing is the use of an audible signal in such a way that blind pedestrians can home in on the signal coming from the target corner as they cross the street.

The PROWAAC report, Building a True Community defined an audible beacon as: "a permanently fixed source emitting sound for directional orientation" (PROWAAC 2001). The MUTCD defines audible beaconing as “the use of an audible signal in such a way that pedestrians with visual disabilities can home in on the signal that is located on the far end of the crosswalk as they cross the street.”(2009, Section 4E.13, P4)

MUTCD requires that the audible beaconing be called up by special actuation, rather than the APS functioning in the louder mode all the time.

The recommended form of special actuation is an extended button press (holding the pushbutton in for over one second).

Additional information

A minority of crosswalks require audible beaconing, in which the sound source provides directional orientation. Where audible beaconing is activated, the volume of the WALK indication and the subsequent locator tone, or just the locator tone during the called pedestrian phase is increased and may be operated in one of the following ways:

Audible beaconing speakers must be oriented in line with the relevant crosswalk.

See Chapter 6, Designing Installations, for additional recommendations regarding audible beaconing.


MUTCD 4E.09 (2003) states: "The audible tone(s) may be made louder (up to a maximum of 89 dBA) by holding down the pushbutton for a minimum of 3 seconds. The louder audible tone(s) may also alternate back and forth across the crosswalk, thus providing optimal directional information."

When to use

Not all crosswalks at an intersection need beaconing. Audible beaconing can actually cause confusion if used at all crosswalks at some intersections. Audible beaconing is probably not appropriate at locations with channelized turns or split phasing, due to the possibility of the signal being heard at the wrong crosswalk.

Audible beaconing should only be considered at:

How used by pedestrians who are blind or who have low vision

Pedestrians may be able to home in on the signal to assist with maintaining alignment while crossing the street.

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