Pushbutton information message
A pushbutton information message is a recorded message that provides the name of the street and intersection with which that pushbutton is associated. It can also provide other information about the intersection signalization or geometry.
Manufacturers refer to this feature by different names, including:
- Voice on location
- Informational message
- Verbal message
- Additional message
- Instructional/location message
The pushbutton information message is provided from a speaker located at the pushbutton, during the flashing and steady DONT WALK intervals only. The message is intended to be audible when standing at the pushbutton location. Pedestrians are required to press the pushbutton for more than one second (see extended button press) to access the additional verbal message.
The pushbutton information message, in conjunction with the tactile arrow, can clarify street names and the crosswalk controlled and signaled by the device. This is particularly important if speech WALK messages are used. To be effective, the pushbutton information message must indicate which street is actuated by the pushbutton, and the arrow must point in the direction of travel on the described crosswalk.
A message that includes only the intersection street names, without clarifying which street is actuated by the pushbutton, provides ambiguous information. See recommendations, below, for pushbutton message wording.
MUTCD requires pushbutton information messages to begin with the word “Wait”.(2009, Section 4E.13, P10), followed by the intersection identification message and any geometric or signalization information that is provided. The MUTCD also provides guidance stating that speech pushbutton information messages should not be used to provide landmark information or to inform pedestrians with visual disabilities about detours or temporary traffic control situations.
A combination of information formats, raised characters, Braille, and audible information, will accommodate the most users.
Pushbutton information messages should be developed according to the following models (Bentzen et al. 2002). As noted above, the MUTCD requires pushbutton information messages to begin with the word “wait”. See additional information in Appendix C.
- Model pushbutton message: "Wait to cross Howard at Grand."
- Model pushbutton message for intersections having an exclusive pedestrian phase with right turns-on-red prohibited: "Wait to cross Howard at Grand. Wait for red light for all vehicles"
- Model pushbutton message for intersections having an exclusive pedestrian phase with right turns-on-red permitted: "Wait to cross Howard at Grand. Wait for red light for all vehicles. Right turn on red permitted."
- Model pushbutton message for angled crosswalks: "Wait to cross Howard at Grand. Crosswalk angles right."
- Model pushbutton message for crosswalks to medians where a second button push is required: "Wait to cross Howard at Grand. Short WALK phase. Raised [or cut-through] median with second pushbutton."
- Model pushbutton message for signalized crosswalks to splitter islands: "Wait to cross right turn lane to island for Howard and Grand crosswalks."
- Model pushbutton message for crosswalks at "T" intersections: "Wait to cross Howard at Grand." (Not different from standard intersection identification message.)
Use "Street," "Avenue," etc., where needed, to avoid ambiguity.
Keep the word order illustrated in the above model messages.
Some model messages have complete sentences for best comprehension.
When to use
Pushbutton information messages are necessary where speech WALK messages are used. If pedestrians do not know the name of the street they are crossing, the speech WALK message does not clarify which street is being signaled.
A pushbutton information message can be helpful in providing location information on demand to pedestrians who are blind or who have low vision.
The MUTCD standards and guidance regarding pushbutton information messages is Section 4E.13, P9 - 12.
Section 4E.12, P2 requires an extended pushbutton press to actuate additional features such as the pushbutton information message.
An APS pushbutton should not be used for landmark information or to inform pedestrians with visual impairments about detours or temporary traffic control, according to recent research (Bentzen et al. 2002).
How used by pedestrians who are blind or who have low vision
Pedestrians who are unfamiliar with an intersection, or who wish to confirm their location, will:
- Locate and depress the pushbutton for one second or more
- Stand beside the pushbutton speaker to listen to the pushbutton information message
- Push the button again, if desired, to hear the message repeated
At a location with two pushbuttons on the same pole and speech WALK messages, it is particularly important that users understand and recognize the street name.
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