The button at the pedestrian crossing found in Australia and some other countries might seem a little, er pedestrian, to write about in a blog on design exemplars, but consider this button.
Firstly, it is easy to find and to press; it’s big and the slightly concave form is inviting to the hand. Or paw. Guide dogs are trained to reach up and press the button.
When you press the button, a tone sounds to tell you that the crossing light system knows you’re there. When the light turns green in your favour, the tone changes and unmistakably signals that it is time to cross. For blind people, the arrow points at the way to cross and when it is time, a portion of the arrow vibrates. As long as you have a hand, you need no other sense—sight, hearing—to use this design. And if you don’t have a hand, see above about the guide dogs. It is vandal proof and reliable—it is extremely rare to find a broken one.
The button was deigned in the 1980’s by Sydney consultants Nielsen Design Associates.