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I'm not talking about the concept of a "hearing aid" (those little things you put in your ears). I'm talking about sounds like the ones emitted by traffic lights, letting us know they've turned green. Is the term "auditory aid" correct, or is there some other term for that?

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Do traffic lights typically emit such signals? For the motorists? I know that hardware differs drastically around the world, but my experience is that only pedestrian signals emit such audio cues. – SevenSidedDie Sep 12 '12 at 18:59
What's wrong with using "audio signal" as you have done in the title? – coleopterist Sep 12 '12 at 19:13
@coleopterist "Aural cue" may be in the same vein. Example in an article from Braille Monitor. – Zairja Sep 12 '12 at 19:23
In that case, you could use audiovisual – Cameron Sep 12 '12 at 19:33
The industry term for the signal is an audible tone. "The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) defines an Accessible Pedestrian Signal as 'a device that communicates information about pedestrian timing in nonvisual format such as audible tones, verbal messages, and/or vibrating surfaces.' (Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices 2003, Section 4A.01)" See this link: accessforblind.org/aps_abt.html – JLG Sep 12 '12 at 19:39
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The UK Department of Transport calls them audible signals.


Two types of audible signal are available. The standard unit, located in the pedestrian push button box, produces a series of bleeps when activated, and is used at single Pelican crossings. It should not be used where there is another crossing nearby because of the risk that visually impaired people may mistake the sound of the nearby crossing for the one they wish to cross. In particular, standard audible signals should not be used at staggered Pelican crossings.

A new audible signal, popularly called "Bleep and Sweep" because of its distinctive sound (four bleeps followed by a longer rising tone), is now available for use at staggered Pelican crossings. The loudness of the new signal is automatically adjusted to just above that of the measured ambient traffic noise, so that a pedestrian standing in the vicinity of the loudspeaker can hear the signal clearly, but someone waiting at the other crossing will hear it only faintly, if at all.

"Pelican" crossings are similar to "zebra" crossings but the name is an acronym for "Pedestrian light-controlled" crossing. A staggered crossing is one where there is a central island with two offset crossings each of which is treated separately rather than a single crossing straight across the road.

Reference: http://assets.dft.gov.uk/publications/tal-4-91/tal-4-91.pdf (PDF 3MB)

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It would appear that if you do a web search (in the US) for

auditory aid

you will have more (though still a minority) animate types of assistance (people) as results relative to

aural aid

that comes up with almost exclusively inanimate types of assistance (devices).

I would probably go by those "industry" tendencies. In my experience the lingoes of working people that drive industries are the safest to use. It's a slight difference, but it seems to hold true across search engines and other Q&A sites.

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