Requesting an APS
The following was developed by the Environmental Access committee of the Orientation and Mobility Division of the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired. A sample letter is included.
Recommended Process for Requesting an Accessible Pedestrian Signal
- Educate yourself about types of APS available and the applicable regulations.
- Find out who controls the intersection where you're making the request. Sometimes it's a city department of traffic engineering, sometimes it's the county, and sometimes, if it's a state or federal highway, it's the state Department of Transportation. You can just call the number listed in the phone book for traffic engineering or public works and ask who you need to contact about the traffic signals at that intersection. Get a name, address and phone number. If you get to talk to someone on that phone call, ask what their policy is on APS.
- The request for an APS is strongest if it comes from a consumer who is blind or visually impaired. So, the consumer should make the actual request for modification in a letter to the individual in the traffic engineering department that manages that intersection. (A sample letter is below).
- Include wording in the first letter about the need for "access to information" about the status of the pedestrian signal. If you have to, you can refer back to the ADA and requirements to make the right of way accessible if they refuse or delay installation.
- With the consumer's permission, follow their letter with a letter of support on your professional letterhead, restating the reasons for the need for the APS at that intersection.
- Follow up with a phone call about a week later to the person who is responsible for that intersection. Remember that most traffic engineers will never have heard of an Orientation and Mobility Specialist (and O&M in traffic engineering terminology is Operations and Maintenance, so don't shorten your title) and may not have thought about a blind person crossing an intersection independently. Remind them of the letter of request and see how they respond. If they have no idea about APS and where to get them, share that you have a list of manufacturers and would like to meet with them to discuss solutions.
- If you can get the engineer to meet you and the consumer on the street corner, and discuss it there, do it. Be sure to include the consumer at that time. Demonstrate the problems and talk about what the APS would do to help.
- If you have not talked to the engineer within two weeks after they should have gotten the letter, you or the consumer should send a followup letter asking them to contact you.
- If you need to send a third letter, it needs to be copied to the department head, the city ADA coordinator, and a local elected official.
- If they refuse to meet with you or refuse to put in the APS, ask them to send a letter to that effect to the client with a copy to you. Say it nicely, but they'll know why you're asking and don't settle for a non-response. Documentation can be useful if you have to file an ADA complaint. You and the client should document any phone conversations (date, who, what they said, etc.) Hopefully, you won't need that information later, but just in case, keep track.
Sample letter requesting an APS:
[Address to traffic engineer in charge of the intersection]
This letter is to request the installation of an Accessible Pedestrian Signal (APS) at the intersection [insert street names]. As a pedestrian who is blind, I am unable to use the visual pedestrian signals currently installed at this location and need access to the information in order to cross the street. As you may be aware, there is a bus stop at this intersection; I must cross the street daily to reach the bus stop. [change that last sentence to fit the specifics of the intersection, particularly if there are some issues that make it particularly hard to cross such as poor traffic sounds, lots of right turning traffic, T-intersection, etc.].
I would like to meet with you or someone from your department at the intersection in question to discuss appropriate modifications. I would also like for [insert O&M instructor name], an orientation and mobility specialist at [insert agency name] to join us. You may contact me at [insert phone number or address] or [insert O&M instructor name] at [insert phone number] to set up an appointment. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
cc: [O&M specialist name, agency affiliation]
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