What You Need to Do to Ensure Accessibility for Deaf People at Public Venues

What You Need to Do to Ensure Accessibility for Deaf People at Public Venues

People having lunch in a restaurant

What You Need to Do to Ensure Accessibility for Deaf People at Public Venues

If your venue welcomes and receives people then accessibility for deaf people isn’t something to take lightly! How can your venue be accessible to the hearing impaired? What do you need to implement to be ADA-compliant?

Deaf people face three types of challenges when they go to a venue, whether it’s a restaurant, a shop or a museum: accessing information through the appropriate mediums, navigating within the venue and communicating with the staff. Accessibility barriers need to be removed for them to be able to fully enjoy your venue. See it as an opportunity to reach other customers. Don’t forget that satisfied customers are more likely to come back and to spread the word about a venue that fits their needs!

Let’s see what it entails for you and your venue to meet the needs of your deaf and hard of hearing customers! We’ve listed all the necessary requirements and equipment to properly welcome them!

Accessibility for deaf people: what does the law say?

You may already be familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act, also called ADA. Established in 1990, this law prevents discrimination based on abilities or disabilities. Its goal is to ensure that disabled people can have access to the same rights and services as anybody else.

Specifically applied to public venues, the ADA requires buildings and services to be accessible to people with disabilities. If your venue is listed below, then you’re concerned:

Shops and shopping malls,

Hotels,

Bars and restaurants,

Hospitals,

Banks

Colleges and universities,

Public services such as city halls,

Amusement parks,

Places of worship,

Sporting facilities like stadiums

Cultural places such as museums, movie theaters…

Whether it’s an existing building or a new one, there are some easy solutions for your venue to be ADA-compliant.

How to make your venue accessible to the deaf community?

To better understand accessibility, picture yourself driving on a highway: you’re enjoying a smooth and perfect ride with no obstacles nor potholes. Every exit is marked and can easily be accessed for you to carry on on your journey. Or if you’d prefer a less imagery scenario, you can call this concept by its regular name: a seamless mobility chain. This actually applies to all your categories of customers, whether they have disabilities or not. They need to easily go from point A to point C. This implies for point B to properly link points A and C. If you keep in mind this, it’ll be easy for you to picture where accessibility barriers need to be removed within your venue. 

Let’s see more precisely the three breaking points you need to pay attention to! 

Providing accessible information to deaf and hard of hearing customers

In a world where audio is the most common way to provide information, then the deaf community is excluded. Luckily, there are other ways for you to enhance accessibility for deaf people!

Web accessibility

Maybe your deaf visitors haven’t been to your venue yet and need to be more familiar with it beforehand. They may do some research directly on your website. You can help them apprehend your venue by focusing on your web accessibility. In fact, it’s part of the ADA requirements. For the deaf community, it means providing videos with subtitles or enclosed captions or a transcript and multiple contact methods in case deaf users need to speak to someone. Phoning is the usual method but you can also include other options such as email, live chat or text SMS. That way if a deaf person needs more information, they can easily contact and communicate with you.

Visual and textual information 

Since you can’t use audio to provide deaf or hard of hearing people information, you need to focus on visual and textual information. Make sure any necessary information such as opening hours, points of interest within your venue (reception desk, restrooms…) can easily be read and identified with the proper signage. You can combine text information with pictograms. It’s the best way for your deaf customers to reach the adequate service.

Any video you may have on display needs to be subtitled or have enclosed captions.

Enhancing navigation within your venue

Obviously, with a clear signage system and pictograms, your deaf customers can find their way within your venue in complete autonomy. Being autonomous and independent enables your customers to freely apprehend your venue at their own pace and without having to constantly ask a staff member. 

If you manage a shopping mall or any maze-like and large venue of that sort, keep in mind that it can be difficult for your customers with hearing impairment to find their way. They could feel overwhelmed and frustrated. But you can help them by choosing an indoor navigation app such as Evelity. It was especially designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities, regardless of their profile. Meaning that for those with a hearing impairment, the app only focuses on text instructions and icons to guide them. 

Evelity can suit public transit systems: it’s already fully implemented at the Marseilles subway network in France and even equips the Jay St-MetroTech Station in New York City. But the wayfinding app can also apply to museums where in addition to navigation instructions, it provides cultural content on the exposed artworks. The Luma Foundation in Arles, France chose Evelity to guide its visitors with disabilities, proving that culture can be accessible to all. 

Communicating efficiently with hearing impaired people

It’s probably the most challenging issue regarding accessibility for deaf people. Let’s take a look at all the solutions you can implement!

Trained staff

Your personnel have a key role to play to welcome the hearing impaired and offer them the best possible experience. That’s why your staff needs to be trained to deal with people with disabilities. Check out our article with 12 Tips to Welcome a Deaf or Hard of Hearing Person! Even a simple thing like making your staff members wear a name tag with their job title can be helpful!

But a good tip to keep in mind is to speak clearly and distinctly for deaf people who can lip read. And also to use a common vocabulary without word plays so that the American Sign Language interpreter (ASL) can easily translate what your staff is saying to the deaf person they’re with.

Equipment for hard of hearing people

Audio induction loops or amplification systems improve hearing quality of those wearing hearing aids. They’re easy to set up and to use. Always make sure your reception desk or information point is equipped with one of these devices. 

Technology to enhance accessibility

For sure, technology can be a powerful tool regarding accessibility for deaf people especially with smartphones. Indeed, a lot of apps help the deaf community understand and be understood by hearing people thanks to artificial intelligence. AI has truly become an asset to enhance accessibility and inclusion! You can make communication between your personnel and deaf customers easier by supplying your staff with work smartphones that have instant transcription apps such as Ava or RogerVoice. These apps can transcribe conversations between hearing people and the hearing impaired. Thanks to them, your staff doesn’t need to learn American Sign Language to understand deaf customers and deaf customers don’t have to lip-read what your staff is saying.

Both parties can follow a conversation without feeling frustrated. 

You now know everything you need to do to improve accessibility for deaf people at your venue! As you can see, solutions exist to remove accessibility barriers. Make a difference and make sure your deaf customers have the best possible experience!

Would you like to know more about hearing impairment? Dive in with:

8 Clichés About Deaf People

Public Transport Information Accessibility: 5 Solutions for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Users

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Staff members from a coffee shop

In a world where audio is the most common way to provide information, then the deaf community is excluded. Luckily, there are other ways for you to enhance accessibility for deaf people!

writer

Carole Martinez

Content Manager junior

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Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?July celebrates Disability Pride Month! A month to support and raise awareness on disability. It gives people with disabilities an opportunity to be seen and heard. Obviously, everybody has their own...

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powered by okeenea

The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

People celebrating with confettis

Disability Pride Month: What Is It and Why Is It Important?

July celebrates Disability Pride Month! A month to support and raise awareness on disability. It gives people with disabilities an opportunity to be seen and heard. Obviously, everybody has their own experiences but this type of celebration enables them to have a sense of community and to assert their rightful place in society.

Inclusion isn’t something trendy to please millennials but is meant to stay! Thanks to initiatives like Disability Pride Month, people with disabilities can gain more visibility and be more included in society. 

Let’s see what it entails exactly and why it’s so important!

What is Disability Pride Month?

It all started when the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) passed in 1990 under George H.W Bush’s presidency. Its goal is to prevent discrimination based on disability. Thanks to this law, accessibility barriers are being removed at public venues such as museums or shopping malls and also public transportation like subways or airports. The law even requires web accessibility. Plus it also advocates employment for people with disabilities. 

Riding the wave of enhancing visibility for people with disabilities, the city of Boston held the first Disability Pride Day in 1990. A lot of cities followed their lead like San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Antonio and New York City but the event wasn’t nationally recognized.

We had to wait for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to establish July as Disability Pride Month in 2015. The year marked the ADA’s 25th anniversary so it was the perfect way to honor it! “By designating July as Disability Pride Month, we are celebrating and commending the fierce advocacy of those who have fought for equal rights for decades and reaffirming our strong commitment to making New York City the most accessible city in the world”, said Mayor de Blasio.

Advocating for disability rights is an everyday battle but having a whole month dedicated to them is in itself a victory. The event fosters accessibility and inclusion! After all, there are 1 billion people with disabilities in the world. But everybody’s concerned: we are all getting older and may face reduced mobility or disease generating incapacities  in the future. And most of all, as human beings living in this world and cohabitating, shouldn’t we be more comprehensive and empathetic towards the issues some (a lot) of us may face?  

Disability Pride Month consists in various activities: parades in a few cities, educational and artistic events and smaller community celebrations. But it takes on its full meaning when it starts a conversation through countless articles on the events, testimonies of disability rights activists and people with disabilities on social media with #DisabilityPrideMonth. That’s what truly matters!

Why is it important to talk about disability?

The Disability Pride Month is spreading on all social media platforms. Meaning that people with disabilities take charge and start a conversation on their disabilities and their everyday lives issues. And what’s better than a person having a disability to explain what it entails, how they’ve accepted it and own it? People with disabilities may feel rejected or ashamed not to be able as others. By making their voices heard, they embrace their disabilities as a positive force. The National Council on Independent Living even designed a Disability Pride Toolkit and Resource Guide.

Such visibility during a whole month creates bridges among all communities: people from all walks of life and different profiles can share their own experiences. This enables to raise disability awareness: people who aren’t directly concerned by disability but who would like to know more. Plus at some point, we all can encounter a person with disabilities at work or in the streets. It can be very helpful to know the issues they face! 

Shedding some light on disability with such an initiative enables to enforce positive takes on people with disabilities: they adapt, they persevere, they show optimism, they’re resourceful, resilient…

How can you be involved?

Maybe at some point, you’ve said “there are no people with disabilities living in my city” to which we’d tell you: “look again”. Did you know that 80% of disabilities are invisible? This concerns hearing impaired people, people on the autism spectrum, people with chronic diseases generating incapacities like Crohn’s disease, people with PTSD… This means you’ve probably already encountered a person with a disability without necessarily being aware of it. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable and awkward as you may not know how to behave around them. But the most important thing to know is that you just have to treat people with disabilities as equals. We’ve come up with 7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities that work every time! 

Next time you meet someone with a disability, just say hi and talk to them. Just be yourself and take the time to know them as individuals. You’ll see that you’ll gradually remove stigmas you may have first had on people with disabilities. Starting a conversation is simple but this can make a difference.

And if you want to do more, you can always look up and get more information on disability whether by reading on the subject or by checking out disabled activists and community leaders. It takes all of us to create an accessible and inclusive world!

We hope that this article on Disability Pride Month will help you start a conversation! Whether with your friends and relatives, your employees or your neighbors! And not only in July. Removing accessibility barriers is an everyday mission!

Published on July 30th, 2021

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A wheelchair user is pushed by a friend at the beach

Such visibility during a whole month creates bridges among all communities […] This enables to raise disability awareness.

writer

Carole Martinez

Content Manager junior

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powered by okeenea

The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

What You Need to Do to Ensure Accessibility for People with Physical Disabilities at Public Venues

What You Need to Do to Ensure Accessibility for People with Physical Disabilities at Public Venues

A café busy with customers

What You Need to Do to Ensure Accessibility for People with Physical Disabilities at Public Venues

Are you certain your public venue is accessible to people with physical disabilities, including people with reduced mobility and wheelchair users? Where exactly is it necessary to have accessibility? What does the law say? What types of equipment can you set up?

Enhancing accessibility for your public venue will enable you to provide your users with physical disabilities with the best possible experience. We all know a satisfied customer will happily come back to your venue and will be more likely to spread the word about this fantastic place they’ve been to!

And to shed some light on what you can undertake, here we’ve compiled everything you need to implement to make sure your public venue is entirely accessible and ADA-compliant to welcome people with physical disabilities! 

Accessibility for people with physical disabilities at public venues: what regulations to apply?

Without any surprise, the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) is the one to strictly follow. Since 1990, the law aims at ensuring people with disabilities have access to the same rights and services as anybody else. Thus applying to public venues. If you manage a public venue such as these, you need to think about accessibility:

Stores and shopping malls

Bars and restaurants,

Hotels,

Banks,

Public services such as city halls,

Colleges and universities, private schools…

Amusement parks,

Hospitals,

Places of worship,

Cultural places like museums, movie theaters, stadiums

For all these public venues, the ADA requires not only that the building in itself to be accessible but also all the services the venue provides. The goal of this law is to ensure there’s no discrimination against people with disabilities by removing accessibility barriers. 

Existing buildings and new ones need to be ADA-compliant. Of course, it can be difficult for existing buildings to be completely accessible seeing that some are very ancient. Some would need to undertake major renovation works to enhance accessibility which could be very expensive. But the ADA states that they need to make “reasonable modifications” to suit the needs of people with disabilities. Plus the act emphasizes on communicating effectively with them. 

What solutions can you implement to enhance accessibility for people with physical disabilities?

There are a lot of things to consider to ensure your public venue is indeed accessible to people with physical disabilities. Keep in mind that people with mobility challenges don’t only concern wheelchair users, some people may use scooters, walkers or canes. The challenge is ensuring a seamless mobility chain so that people with physical disabilities can go from point A to C without any difficulties. Meaning that point B can easily link points A and C. But be reassured: the solutions you can implement to remove accessibility barriers are simple. Let’s take a look at them!

Accessibility outside your venue

Let’s start with what you can do to make sure people with physical disabilities can easily have access to your building:

PRM parking spaces: They need to be easily spotted with horizontal and vertical signage. And they need to be close to your building entrance to make the trips of people with physical disabilities easier.

A clean and smooth ground without any major obstacles or potholes. 

Large exterior circulations for wheelchair users to move freely.

Accessibility at your venue entrance

Obviously, your building entrance needs to be accessible if you want people with disabilities to enjoy your venue:

Access ramps: You can set up a permanent one instead or in addition to stairs. Make sure to respect the ADA requirements: ramps must be a minimum of 36 inches wide. They need to have top and bottom landings as wide as the ramp itself and at least 60 inches long. As for the slope, it needs to be greater than 1:20 and less than 1:12. A removable ramp also does the job: make sure it’s easy to use or that there’s a call button within reach so that wheelchair users can make their presence known.

Large doors: Indeed they need to be large enough to make sure wheelchair users can enter your venue. 

Accessibility within your venue

This is where you may need to step up your game to guarantee accessibility for people with physical disabilities! Let’s see what it entails:

Anti-slip mats: Mats at entrances, whether located just in front of the doors or right beyond, are necessary against dirt or mud but they also need to be accessible for wheelchair users. That’s why ADA-compliant floor mats have to be non-slip, robust enough and have the appropriate size and thickness to ensure wheelchair accessibility.

Universal pictograms so that your users with physical disabilities are aware of what services are accessible to them.

An accessible information desk and/or checkout: These services need to be easily identified thanks to a clear signage system. Plus lowered counters are easier for wheelchair users to see and be seen by your staff but also communicate effectively with them. And having a staff trained to best suit the needs of people with disabilities is priceless in terms of quality experience!

Elevators, escalators or access ramps so that your users with physical disabilities can access everything your venue has to offer!

Large aisles for wheelchair users to move without any difficulties. Thanks to large aisles, they can easily make a u-turn. 

Accessible seating areas.

Accessible restrooms: They need to be clearly identified thanks to the use of pictograms. Its equipment consists of a lowered sink and counter for handwashing, a higher toilet seat, grab bars on the wall closest to the toilet and behind the toilet, a bathroom emergency pullstring, and enough space for wheelchair users to easily make a u-turn. Every piece of equipment needs to be at the same level as wheelchair users for better comfort. 

Indoor navigation app: It’s particularly useful for users with physical disabilities to apprehend a new and complex environment. The app Evelity designed by Okeenea adapts perfectly to its user profile. For wheelchair users and people with reduced mobility, it provides optimized routes. Meaning that Evelity will guide them to use stair-free routes only.

 

As you can see, providing accessibility to your users with physical disabilities isn’t as tricky as it seems! Implementing these solutions will help you attract more users or customers to your venue. Even if you can’t undertake major and expensive renovation works, a digital solution can improve the accessibility of your venue! Thanks to all these different solutions and equipment, inclusion truly is within reach!

Would you like to know more about physical disabilities? Dive in with:

8 Tips to Welcome a Person with Physical Disabilities

9 Must-Have Apps for People with Physical Disabilities in 2020

Obstacles in Public Transport: What Solutions for Physical Disability?

media

A wheelchair user and a woman using a cane side by side

Keep in mind that people with mobility challenges don’t only concern wheelchair users, some people may use scooters, walkers or canes.

writer

Carole Martinez

Content Manager junior

stay updated

Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

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follow us!

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Sign up now for our newsletter.

Unsubscribe in one click. The information collected is confidential and kept safe.

powered by okeenea

The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

How to Make Museums More Accessible for People with Disabilities?

How to Make Museums More Accessible for People with Disabilities?

Exhibit of bone dinosaurs

How to Make Museums More Accessible for People with Disabilities?

Culture for all is a universally acknowledged notion. We, as human beings, depend on culture, whatever form it may take, to understand our society, to be a part of it, to think outside the box… If you’re a museum curator or director, you may be sensitive to that and want to offer your visitors the best experience possible. But what about visitors with disabilities? What are the solutions you can set up to make museums accessible to them?

Not only does accessible museums mean welcoming all types of visitors, regardless of their profile, but it also means making the content understandable for them. You, as museum professionals, need to answer both challenges. Whether it’s a painting, a sculpture or a documentary, museums need to make culture accessible to its visitors. It has always been an area that easily warmed up to accessibility, much earlier than others. Seeing that culture focuses on creating dialogue and human connections and is synonymous with social inclusion, that makes perfect sense.

Let’s see the guidelines you should follow to make your museum more accessible! 

Why is making museums more accessible so important? 

Museum accessibility is indeed covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) meaning that museums have to provide accessibility for visitors with disabilities. They need to provide equal access and services to their venues for all types of audiences. 

According to the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), in 2019 museums in the U.S. produced 50 billion dollars with approximately 850 million visitors. Even though the world pretty much stopped in 2020 due to COVID-19, culture remains an essential part of our lives. With around 40 million Americans with disabilities, they represent potential visitors for museums to attract. 

Plus, of course, our need to connect with others and to other ways of thinking is key. Something that we all long for, including people with disabilities. Culture in general and museums in particular enable us to be more included in our society and to meet other people out of our comfort zone. That’s the power of social inclusion. Accessible museums simply make it easier for all audiences.

The Smithsonian Institution paves the way for others by making available accessibility guidelines for museum professionals. This applies to any museum dedicated to providing inclusive experiences to all its visitors.

Removing accessibility barriers at every stage

For museums to be more inclusive, accessibility barriers need to be removed at every step of the way. This means implementing a seamless mobility chain. It’s not just to be guaranteed when using public transit but when going from point A to point B: a blind person who would go from their home to a public venue. All inbetween stages need to be made accessible to ensure this person can properly reach their final destination.

Let’s see the stages where you, museum professionals, need to focus in order for visitors with disabilities to fully enjoy what the museum has to offer! 

Preparing the visit 

It’s probably the most important stage for people with disabilities. Indeed, they need to apprehend beforehand the venue they’re going to visit in order to make sure they’re not going to meet any difficulties during their trip or once they’ve arrived. Once again, everything needs to be seamless.

To get all the necessary information, your museum website is of course the most reliable resource. But the website needs to be accessible for all types of users. Check our article on digital accessibility to understand what it entails exactly! Simple solutions like subtitled videos, visual contrast and using alternatives to captchas can greatly help users with disabilities navigate the Internet.

Providing an online map to visitors is greatly useful for those with disabilities. They can apprehend the galleries and all the points of interest by themselves to get the most of their visit. Plus, they can download it on their phones and access it whenever they need it. As we previously saw in another article, 84% of people with disabilities use a smartphone

Seeing that some of the museums are gigantic mazes, being able to find the main entrance, your bearings and to know exactly where the accessible equipment like accessible restrooms are located is extremely convenient. For example, the Met in New York City represents the 5th largest museum in the world and was the most visited one in the U.S. in 2019 with 6,770,000 visitors. Its online map is well conceived to help any visitors enjoy their visit.

Going to the museum 

Once visitors have spotted the exact location of the museum they want to visit, they need to plan their trip to go there. What’s the best way to go there according to their needs? Where are the accessible parking spaces for wheelchair users? In a large city, using public transit can be the easiest way to get around. But it means riding an accessible subway for more autonomy.

Blind visitors can struggle to find the exact location of the museum entrance. A sound signage system like audio beacons remains the best solution to guide them. For example, NAVIGUEO+ HIFI audio beacons can be installed at the museum entrance and activated on demand by users to avoid noise pollution whether with a remote control or their smartphone with the MyMoveo app. 

Apprehending the museum and its galleries

Now that visitors with disabilities have access to your museum, they need to be able to get around freely and in complete autonomy. Welcoming visitors with different profiles means having a staff trained to best assist them according to their needs. It’s even more important with guided tours specially reserved for blind visitors. Being patient and letting them feel the works of art when possible at their own pace enables them to feel safe and to properly enjoy their visit. Besides, it takes a good storyteller to describe colors, shapes and all the details so make sure your staff knows how to make blind visitors “see” your collections! 

Moreover, all the services provided by your museum such as galleries, cafeterias and restaurants, restrooms and shops need to be accessible. Let’s see the basic equipment you need to implement to physically welcome visitors with disabilities and guide them!

Blind and visually impaired visitorsTactile guide paths
Secured stairs with handrails and visual contrasting non-slip stair nosings
Audio information
Braille plaques
Deaf and hearing impaired visitorsAssistive listening devices
Audio induction loops
Visual information
Visitors with reduced mobilityLowered counters at information desk, restaurant and shop
Courtesy wheelchairs
Ramps and elevators
Large spaces for wheelchair users
Wheelchair seating areas
Visitors with a cognitive impairmentUniversal pictograms
Visitors in the autism spectrumQuiet places

Although guide paths help blind visitors find their way, they’re not to be used meagerly since too many of them could alter the esthetics of your venue. 

That’s why more and more museums choose to turn to digital solutions like navigation apps to apprehend the venue and easily get their bearings. The Sign Research Foundation established a guide on Digital Wayfinding Trends: Lessons Learned from Museums, Healthcare and Transit Experiences. This shows how these three different fields encounter the same issues about helping people with disabilities find their bearings in a complex environment but how a digital wayfinding solution can in fact solve them.

Besides, the Luma Foundation in Arles, France chose a wayfinding app for its visitors. The soon to be opened museum chose to provide its visitors with disabilities with the best experience possible by implementing Evelity: an indoor navigation app specifically conceived to suit any user profile.

Thus it’s perfect for:

Blind and visually impaired visitors: the app provides audio instructions thanks to VoiceOver and TalkBack screen readers. 

Deaf and hearing impaired visitors: a focus on text descriptions and icons.

Visitors with reduced mobility: they are given optimized routes meaning they are aware beforehand of the locations of elevators or escalators.

Visitors with a cognitive impairment: easy-to-read instructions that help them navigate their way without feeling overwhelming.

Plus, users can keep their phone in their pocket while using Evelity in order to enjoy the museum without having to carry it. This app truly helps visitors with disabilities feel more comfortable in an unfamiliar environment and make this museum accessible without having to undertake major renovation works.

And French architect Nadia Sahmi couldn’t agree more on the importance of physical and psychological comfort for all in cultural venues. She worked for instance on the Luma Foundation and the Vuitton Foundation. We had the chance to interview her and she gave us her insight on what culture for all entails. In her work, she focuses on a human-centered approach to take into account everybody’s needs. And every single detail counts: “For example, there’s no point in having properly sized spaces if we don’t take into account the light, preferably natural light or a well-thought artificial light.” 

Obviously, lighting is extremely important for museums since they favor low lighting to preserve their collections. But this can represent an obstacle for visually impaired visitors who wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy the works of art. The Mary Rose museum in Portsmouth England opted for “relaxed opening mornings” once a month when light levels are higher than usual for visually impaired visitors to properly enjoy the warship. This solution also helps people in the autism spectrum and people with dementia to feel more comfortable. 

Inclusive design thus proves to be essential to make museums accessible. The goal is to create solutions that meet the needs of several groups of people, something that cultural places like museums have always focused on, long before other fields to make culture accessible to all. 

Accessing the cultural content 

Although inclusive design can help make your museum more accessible, other solutions come into action to ensure all types of visitors can easily access the cultural content exhibited. Let’s review existing solutions some museums chose to implement!

Blind and visually impaired visitorsVerbal descriptions by professionals
Audioguides
Tactile models
Deaf and hearing impaired visitorsText descriptions
Subtitled videos
American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation
Visitors with reduced mobilityLowered works of art
Lowered text descriptions
Accessible seating places at video rooms
Visitors with a cognitive impairmentVerbal descriptions by professionals
Easy-to-read descriptions

The app Evelity, mentioned earlier, is perfect for museums: not only does it guide visitors with disabilities but it can also provide geolocated cultural content read by voice synthesis directly on their phones. Thus Evelity turns into a cultural mediation tool. An all-in-one solution to make your museum accessible!

Some museums even go the extra mile like the Guggenheim in New York City for whom accessibility is important. They’ve established Mind’s Eye programs to provide sensory experiences to visitors with a visual impairment. They’ve also created a social narrative guide explaining to people with sensory processing disorders what to expect during their visit.

Making your museum accessible isn’t just about the venue in itself. Finding ways for people with disabilities to access the cultural content represents one of your most important challenges. Whenever possible, a lot of museums break with the famous “don’t touch!” rule for blind visitors and implement various types of tactile objects and models. This enables them to “see” by themselves the works of art through touch.

Creating tactile models and providing visitors with original experiences is Tactile Studio’s mission. This inclusive design agency is specialized in promoting the arts and culture for all. Their innovative works make museums more accessible, including famous ones like the Louvre in Paris. The most visited museum in Europe now has tactile stations showing blind visitors all the construction phases of the Louvre. 

Relying on modern technology to make museums accessible 

3D printing, which has become more generalized, also represents a great way for blind visitors to apprehend a certain work of art. However, relief models aren’t the only way to make cultural content accessible to them. A lot of digital solutions appear to reach a wider audience. Tactile Studio also happens to focus on them. The agency set up digital services for the “Photographs: An Early Album Of The World 1842-1896” exhibition at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Implementing interactive animations, graphical interfaces and a digital narration is just another way for visitors to explore your museum and its collections.

Some museums even have their own apps displaying their works of art in a different format and offering a virtual tour like the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. Its Deep Time Audio Description App enables users to explore the Fossil Hall directly on their phone thanks to a self-guided tour providing alt text images, visual descriptions and interactive touchscreen.  

Living interactive experiences makes culture come to life. This explains why more and more museums bet on virtual reality (VR) to show their exhibits. Visitors just have to wear a helmet to explore an exhibit. This can be very useful for visitors with reduced mobility: they can enjoy an exhibit at their own pace. Or even for blind visitors who could feel like they’re “touching” a forbidden sculpture. The National Museum of Natural History in Paris even set up a permanent Cabinet of Virtual Reality so that visitors can dive into Evolution. This enables visitors to be completely immersed in a stimulating environment.

It’s the same process with augmented reality (AR) even though it’s via an app. This technology offers an altered version of the environment. It helps visually impaired visitors have a better sense of the work displayed in front of them with more contrast and highlight on details. Once again, the National Museum of Natural History proves to be a pioneer in modern technology. In order to showcase the skeletons from its famous Bone Hall, the museum created an augmented reality app: Skin and Bones. A way to show users how these animals used to move!  

In order for your museum to be more accessible, you need to rethink the way you showcase your collections to best suit all types of audiences. It’s obvious that providing inclusive experiences is becoming the norm. Culture for all isn’t just a trend. As we saw, museums are all committed to having accessible venues providing accessible content! What about yours?

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Visitors exploring a museum

Making your museum accessible isn’t just about the venue in itself. (…) Whenever possible, a lot of museums break with the famous “don’t touch!” rule for blind visitors and implement various types of tactile objects and models.

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Carole Martinez

Content Manager junior

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powered by okeenea

The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.

How Can Multimodal Transit Centers Be Accessible for People with Disabilities?

How Can Multimodal Transit Centers Be Accessible for People with Disabilities?

The hall of the New York Grand Central Terminal

How Can Multimodal Transit Centers Be Accessible for People with Disabilities?

Multimodal transit centers turn out to be major nodes of transportation in large cities that aim at improving transport efficiency. They can easily connect together different means of transportation, thus saving time for passengers who need to commute. Every day, transit centers enable millions of passengers to easily reach their destination regrouping several transport networks like buses or trains under one place. But how can such crowded and complex places be accessible to people with disabilities? 

Getting around spontaneously in a city implies being autonomous, an even more important notion for people with disabilities. However, mobility remains one of the most challenging issues for them. A lot of factors need to be considered for accessibility barriers to be removed. But it doesn’t mean it’s not impossible, even in a maze-like transport hub with connections to railroad and subway trains or city bus services.

Let’s take a look at innovative solutions that help users with disabilities safely get their bearings in multimodal transit centers! 

What are multimodal transit centers exactly?

Multimodal transit centers or transport hubs gather different means of transportation: railroad stations, subway stations, rapid transit stations, city buses, regional buses… Some have a high number of platforms located on ground level or deep underneath like New York Grand Central Terminal and its 44 platforms. Thus transport hubs accumulate a lot of possible combinations. Even airports can be considered as transport hubs since some include international railroad trains and public transit systems such as buses, shuttles and streetcars to connect them to the city on top of national and international airlines. 

The common goal is to provide multimodal and interchange transportation. Instead of having a point-to-point system, passengers who need to commute benefit from a hub-and-spoke system: they have at their disposal different possible combinations in one place to make their trips more simple. Thus they can easily reach their destination without spending unnecessary time going for example from a subway station in the city centre to a bus stop across. In a world that keeps moving faster and faster, a hub-and-spoke network represents the perfect solution for commuters in large cities. With so many options available, they can use the means of transportation that best suits their journey and their needs.

Penn Station in New York City is a perfect example of a multimodal transit center: it regroups intercity rail with Amtrak, commuter rail with Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) and NJ Transit (NJT), rapid transit with New York City Subway MTA and PATH, and bus and coach services with New York City Bus and Intercity coaches. Penn Station results in being one of the busiest transportation hubs in the Western Hemisphere! As such, it sets an example of accessibility by providing accessible restrooms, high platforms, accessible parking…

What’s noteworthy with transit centers is that they’re not just about transportation. Thanks to shops, bars and restaurants, users can fully take advantage of these hubs. In a way, they provide similar services as shopping malls. For example, New York Grand Central Terminal has 60 shops and 35 places to eat. It can even welcome different types of events in the Vanderbilt Hall and contains libraries. This interchange service aims at offering the best possible experience to all.

For more information on transit hubs, you can read Arcadis’ report on mixed mobility: Improving Quality of Life Through Transit Hubs. The design and consultancy firm provides a benchmark with valuable insight on different transit centers across the world.

Even though there’s a constant flow of traffic passengers, transit centers’ infrastructures are designed to make passengers’ journey easier and pleasant. Indeed, architects and urban planners apply the principles of universal design for the comfort of all such as perceptible information, low physical effort and simple intuitive use.

Obviously, passengers with disabilities fully benefit from these principles. They can use any means of transportation that multimodal transit centers dispose of thanks to easy accessible solutions. 

 

How to remove accessibility barriers in transit centers?

As you can see, there are so many transportation combinations that it’s easy for anyone to feel overwhelmed. For people with disabilities, this may cause a lot of stress and anxiety. How can they easily find their bearings in a loud and busy transport hub? 

First things first: using public transit means having a seamless mobility chain to go from point A to point C. This means that point B needs to perfectly link together point A and point C. The mobility chain actually concerns any passengers, not just those with disabilities. Our article How to Guarantee a Seamless Mobility Chain to Users with Disabilities? will shed some light on this key notion. 

Obviously, removing accessibility barriers is what provides a seamless mobility chain. It implies being aware of the difficulties met by people with disabilities. This can happen at any stage of their journey. Let’s review the obstacles met by people with disabilities during each stage of their trips and the solutions that network operators can implement to help them get around!

Preparing your trip

Having a smooth trip strongly depends on this first stage. People with disabilities need to make sure they know everything about the route to take according to their needs, traffic…

ObstaclesSolutions
Not knowing the best route to take according to their needsUsing a journey planner online or via an app that calculates journeys including transfers
Lack of information on trafficAudio and visual real-time information 
Lack of information about elevators and escalatorsReal-time information about the location of elevators and escalators and their working order

The MaaS (Mobility as a Service) is a great innovative solution that integrates different means of transportation and can help users plan a trip. Our article Maas: a Solution for Tomorrow’s Mobility deciphers this technology perfectly suited for smart cities.

Finding the entrance of the transit center

Transit centers being a hub-and-spoke system, they can have several entrances and exits. This also demands good preparation. But once people with disabilities are in their vicinity, they may need extra help to find the exact location of the entrance.

Category of people with disabilitiesSolutions
People with a visual impairmentAudio beacons like NAVIGUEO+ HIFI: they can be activated on demand thanks to a remote control or the smartphone app MyMoveo
An efficient signage system with tactile guide paths, visual contrast and detectable warning strips
People with a mental disabilityUsing universal pictograms that are easy to understand


Going inside the transport hub

The implementation of elevators and escalators is crucial for people with reduced mobility such as wheelchair users, the elderly, parents with strollers… 

Category of people with disabilitiesSolutions
People with reduced mobilityElevators and escalators
Access ramps
Large automatic doors
People with a visual impairmentSecured stairs: handrails and contrasting non-slip stairs

Elevators and escalators need to be in enough numbers, perfectly located and visible to all of those who would like to use them. Plus, maintaining their working order is key to ensure a seamless mobility chain.

Buying a ticket

Even a trivial thing such as buying a ticket can be challenging for people with disabilities whether they use the ticket machine by themselves or they ask a staff member at a booth station. Nowadays, more and more people buy their ticket via their smartphone. Users can thus easily do it at home.

Category of people with disabilitiesSolutions
Wheelchair usersLowered counter
People with a visual impairmentEmbossed buttons or Braille on the ticket machine
Tactile guide paths and audio beacons to find the locations of the booth and the machine
People with a hearing impairmentAudio induction loops at station booth
People with a mental impairmentUniversal pictograms that are easy to understand
Accessible vocabulary (easy-to-read)

One of the most important things when assisting people with disabilities is knowing how to behave around them. A trained staff is key to ensure passengers with disabilities have the best customer service possible. That’s how transit centers can retain customers. 

 

Going through the turnstiles

This stage can be stressing since passengers with disabilities may lack time to cross the turnstiles. Sometimes, the closing mechanism is just too fast. Plus, other passengers behind them may be impatient. 

ObstaclesSolutions
Not enough width for wheelchair usersDedicated airlock for them
Ticket validity control too high for wheelchair usersLowered validity ticket control
Difficulties to insert a ticketContactless validation
No clear distinction between entry and exit gatesVisual contrast, universal pictograms and tactile guide paths
Fast closing mechanismPresence detector

 

Finding the platform

Depending on the transit center, passengers with disabilities may need to use a bus, a train or a subway train. In such gigantic transport hubs, finding their bearings can be difficult for them since they contain so many different means of transportation and connections. Going through the different concourses can feel like quite the expedition.

A clear audio and visual signage system such as the one previously mentioned remains essential for passengers with disabilities. 

But there’s also another solution that’s both simple and innovative: an indoor navigation app! The wayfinding app Evelity was developed by Okeenea Digital and especially created to guide people with disabilities step by step inside complex venues and public transit systems. That’s one of the reasons why the New York City subway chose Evelity for a test in real conditions! This solution is tailor made to fit any profile of disabilities and provides more autonomy and spontaneity to users with disabilities. In crowded and multimodal transit centers, this app is more than relevant!

Getting on the bus or train

For wheelchair users to get on a bus, bus drivers need to pull up to the curb or to lower or “kneel” the bus. Getting on a train means having an accessible boarding area at the centre of a platform with the smallest gap between the platform edge and the subway train. In New York City, MTA conceived a Guide to Accessible Transit on Buses and Subways that provides users with all the necessary information.

Accessible seatings aboard buses and trains enable wheelchair users to safely travel.

Getting off at the right station

The navigation app Evelity can of course alert users they’ve reached their destination. Even if their smartphone is in their pocket, the app still functions and gives them the necessary information. This enables vulnerable users to feel safe using their smartphone in a public space, without any risk of theft.

Visual and audio announcements allow passengers to constantly know where they are. Thus they have enough time to get ready to get off. 

 

Although multimodal transit centers may seem at first complicated to use for people with disabilities due to so many combinations of transportation, there are a lot of solutions that are implemented to make their trips easier. Getting around spontaneously and autonomously is essential for all passengers, regardless of their profile. Accessible transport hubs help them save time while having the best experience possible. 

 

For more information on accessible public transit systems, you can read the following articles:

How to Help People with Disabilities Get a Better Experience on the Subway?

MBTA: a Global Model of Accessible Public Transportation

Public Transport Information Accessibility: 5 Solutions for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Users

media

An airport that serves as a transit center

In a world that keeps moving faster and faster, a hub-and-spoke network represents the perfect solution (…) With so many options available, people can use the means of transportation that best suits their journey and their needs.

writer

Carole Martinez

Content Manager junior

stay updated

Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

other articles for you

follow us!

more articles

NEVER miss the latest news about the Smart City.

Sign up now for our newsletter.

Unsubscribe in one click. The information collected is confidential and kept safe.

powered by okeenea

The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

For more than 25 years, we have been developing architectural access solutions for buildings and streets. Everyday, we rethink today’s cities to transform them in smart cities accessible to everyone.

By creating solutions ever more tailored to the needs of people with disabilities, we push the limits, constantly improve the urban life and make the cities more enjoyable for the growing majority.