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Release date: 3/24/10

*** Press Release ***

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA), which oversees the surface transportation network in San Francisco including the Municipal Railway (Muni), today announced that the City has received more than $200,000 in federal stimulus funds that will in part equip five additional intersections with Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS).

In the City 116 intersections have been equipped with the devices over the past two and a half years, making San Francisco the national leader on this important safety issue.

“The SFMTA remains committed to increasing access and mobility across the City,” said Nathaniel P. Ford Sr., SFMTA Executive Director/CEO. “We will continue to work with our partners to provide greater accessibility for all San Franciscans.”

“San Francisco has a vibrant and diverse community of people with disabilities who are able to live here independently,” said Susan Mizner, Executive Director, Mayor’s Office on Disability. “Features such as the APS expand the range of their independence, enriching their lives as well as the culture of the City.”

“San Francisco’s APS program is the gold standard that other municipalities are emulating,” said Jessie Lorenz, Associate Director of the Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco. “The success of the program is based in large part on the unwavering commitment of the California Council of the Blind, the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the SFMTA. Collaboration among these organizations has turned San Francisco into one of the most visitable cities in the country for individuals who are blind.”

The APS units installed by the SFMTA meet new federal guidelines issued in December. The state of the art signaling devices assist pedestrians with visual impairments by emitting a rapid ticking sound in tandem with the familiar WALK symbol displayed for sighted pedestrians. Other accessibility features include locator tones to help those with visual impairments find the devices, vibrating push buttons during the walk phase and audible information such as street names when pedestrians press the push buttons for one second or longer.

“The audible and tactile information conveyed by the APS has helped eliminate my fear of crossing intersections in San Francisco,” said David Jackson, a blind, 30-year resident of San Francisco and a Board member of the California Council of the Blind.

San Francisco’s APS program also includes a detailed checklist for prioritizing requests for APS and a carefully monitored maintenance program. Members of the public can request that the signals be installed by either visiting or calling 311.

The SFMTA’s successful APS program grew out of a cooperative effort between blind advocates from the California Council of the Blind, the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco. The SFMTA and the California Council of the Blind reached a landmark settlement on the issue in 2007. The original agreement included at least 80 intersections. The SFMTA continues to work with the community to expand the use of APS in San Francisco.

Contacts for blind community organizations:

Jessie Lorenz

Linda Porelle

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