How can we make transport accessible to everyone?

Accomplish • Pulse #2 • 3 min
By Jean-Pierre Montal

Visible or invisible disabilities, impairments, health problems, illiteracy… we are not all equal when it comes to mobility. Here, we take a look at some initiatives which make mobility more inclusive, in response to four major human vulnerabilities researched in the context of the Keoscopie Observatory of habits and lifestyles.

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“Mobility, you have to learn it!”

1 min

1- APPS FOR HELPING DISABLED PEOPLE GET ARROUND

In France, 12 million people suffer from a disability (Source). The Disability law stipulates that public transport must be 100% accessible to people with reduced mobility in 2018 (in 2021 for interurban connections and 2027 for all rail traffic) (Source).  European law states that they should have “generalised accessibility” to transport. Apart from adapting rolling stock to their needs, the sharing of information represents a key lever in providing disabled people with access to transport. The Iwheelshare application provides an interactive and evolving map that details all the places – and not just transport modes – that are easy to access in a wheelchair. The users are able to make additions to the map on a daily basis. Another example is Audiospot, an app for blind people. This application localises the user and announces useful information during their journey, for example, the nearest bus stop, the relevant bus routes and arrival time of the next bus.


2- EDUCATION TO REDUCE DIGITAL VELNURABILITY

Increased mobility also comes from a better understanding of existing services, particularly digital tools. This is a critical issue, not just for older citizens who are often disoriented by the general digitalisation of society, but also for people who cannot afford to buy a smartphone. The Greater Bordeaux area opted for a “mobility platform” launched by Keolis in partnership with Wimoov (see insert right page). It’s a network of helplines established in the 28 municipalities of the area which are manned by mobility advisors. Their tasks are to help passengers get to know the network, tell them about new mobility solutions adapted to their needs and educate them to use digital tools associated with transport (ticketing, searching for travel routes…). Some 80% of older citizens benefited from the service and now travel regularly and feel more at ease with their transport usage.


3- BUSES FOR HELPING THOSE WHO SUFFER FROM ALZHEIMER’S

Degenerative dementia (of which Alzheimer’s represents between 60 to 70% of all cases) affects 47.5 million people all over the world with nearly 10 million new cases every year (Source). In general during the first stages of the illness, depending on the case, people are still able to use public transport thus maintaining their independence and not becoming isolated. The United Kingdom decided to tackle this public health issue head on. More than 200 councils have been awarded a “dementia friendly” label. Specific adaptations have been made to buses for the illness that affects people’s attention span with enhanced comprehension for announcements and significantly increased visibility for signage. The programme goes further by consulting people suffering from dementia to help adapt bus interiors and training drivers and conductors to welcome sufferers of the illness on board.


4- UNE SIGNALÉTIQUE ADAPTEE POUR FAIRE FACE À L’ILLETTRISME

Adapted signage for illiterate people

It is known that 14% of the total world population (approx., 750 million people) cannot read, write or have difficulty with both of these activities (Source). In Melbourne, bus stations have been numbered or re-named with a very simple, factual word linked to the surrounding urban environment (a specific monument recognisable by everybody, for example). The underground map thus becomes more obvious and easier for everyone to understand. Another initiative was introduced in Mexico, where illiteracy is estimated to affect 10% of the population. In order to encourage mobility, the Mexican Municipal Transport Service appealed to the famous American graphic designer, Lance Wyman, to devise a signage system completely based on icons (symbolizing well-known monuments) and pictograms (designating station connections, exits, information desks…). This system was introduced back in 1969 and has expanded with the city’s underground. Mexico is a more legible and accessible city.

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