How to Foster Inclusive Mobility at Public Transit?

How to Foster Inclusive Mobility at Public Transit?

A train arriving at the JaySt-MetroTech subway station in New York City where tests are currently being held to foster inclusive mobility

How to Foster Inclusive Mobility at Public Transit?

You probably have heard of inclusive mobility but do you know what it actually means? For public transit all over the world, this notion gets more and more important. And more realistic to implement as many accessibility solutions enable people with disabilities to use public transport.

Because that’s what inclusive mobility entails. It gives people with disabilities more freedom and spontaneity to easily go to work, attend their kid’s recital, have a drink with their friends…

Let’s see what inclusive mobility solutions you can set up for your city’s public transit. You’ll be able to provide users with disabilities with a high-quality service.

What is inclusive mobility?

A concept you must have heard of but you may not have taken the time to decipher. What is the meaning of inclusive mobility?

It consists in creating a barrier-free environment where all types of users, regardless of their capabilities, can easily come and go. 

After all, mobility is the ability to move freely. And inclusion represents the idea that everyone should be able to go to any type of venue, enjoy the same activities or experiences, benefit from the same services…

Of course, this concerns people with disabilities. This means that for inclusive mobility to be a reality for them, public transit needs to be accessible.

Several ideas are at stake with inclusive mobility for people with disabilities:

 ⊗ Improving their independence, autonomy and spontaneity when getting around,

 ⊗ Making sure they don’t have to adapt to public transit. It’s up to public transportation to adapt to their needs and capabilities.

 ⊗ Providing them with the same choices as everybody else: the ability to use public transportation if they want to. 

What solutions favor inclusive mobility at public transit?

Accessible equipment, digital apps, there’s a whole variety of solutions to make public transit inclusive for riders with disabilities:

 ⊗ Elevators,

 ⊗ Escalators,

 ⊗ Stairs with nosings, handrails and a visual contrast

 ⊗ Access ramps,

 ⊗ Lowered counters,

 ⊗ Lowered ticket validity control,

 ⊗ Tactile guide paths,

 ⊗ Pictograms,

 ⊗ Visual and audio announcements… 

By now all these solutions may sound familiar to you but there are others you should particularly pay attention to. They’re a game-changer for the accessibility of a public transit network.

 ⊗ Audio beacons: a solution that helps blind and visually impaired people locate the entrance of a subway station, the elevator, the ticket machine, the counter and any other service available within the network. 

Blind and visually impaired users need to rely on an efficient audio signage system to find their bearings. And also to have access to information. The audio beacon’s message can be about the direction of the line or the timetables.

Audio beacons are very easy to install, maintain and cost-effective. Thanks to this equipment, employees aren’t solicited to guide a visually impaired person. They can focus on helping them by providing the information or services they need. 

 ⊗ Navigation apps: are accessible and inclusive indoor navigation apps really a thing? The answer is yes. Our navigation app Evelity takes into account every type of disability. This means it adapts to the user, regardless of their capabilities.

Blind and visually impaired people: Evelity provides step-by-step audio instructions thanks to a screen reader (VoiceOver for iOS and TalkBack for Android).

Deaf and hard of hearing people: visual instructions with text and icons.

People with physical disabilities: visual instructions. The app provides personalized routes. For example, a wheelchair user is only given step-free routes for their experience to be optimal.

People with mental disabilities: easy-to-read and understand instructions and icons.

This makes Evelity the perfect solution for the inclusive mobility of a public transit network. This is why the Marseilles metro in France has chosen to implement it across its entire network. And it has also set foot on American soil: Evelity is currently being tested at the JaySt-MetroTech subway station in New York City.

What is Evelity the perfect solution to make public transportation accessible?

 ⊗ It truly adapts to all types of disabilities.

 ⊗ Its technology enables it to give precise step-by-step instructions. Indeed, its geolocation provides a 1,2 m precision in order to safely guide users in a public transit network.

 ⊗ It enables users to easily find their way around with autonomy. They can use public transportation just like everyone else.   

 ⊗ An indoor navigation app is less expensive than refurbishing works to make old subway systems accessible. That’s exactly one of the reasons why the MTA turned to testing digital solutions at JaySt-MetroTech station. 

Is phygital the way to inclusive mobility?

The combination of both accessible equipment and digital solutions enables public transit to be inclusive and accessible. With phygital, riders with disabilities can better interact with the accessible solutions at their disposal within a public transit network. 

Because that’s what’s at stake here: making sure people with disabilities can easily use public transportation to gain more freedom and more spontaneity when getting around.

A digital solution combined with physical accessible equipment guarantees inclusive mobility for all categories of people. That’s called phygital.

But for a navigation app to properly work, physical accessible equipment is still necessary. Because, of course, a wheelchair user can’t use Evelity if there’s no elevator or access ramp leading to public transportation. 

Public transit needs the best of both worlds.  

What Is a Phygital Experience and How Can It Improve the Accessibility of Your Venue?

Why is it so important to implement inclusive mobility at public transit?

As part of the ADA, public transit has to be accessible for people with disabilities. Paratransit services have been set up when fixed routes aren’t fully or not at all accessible to help people with disabilities get around. But such services are expensive. Plus, they have always intended to be temporary to give time for public transit to be accessible.

Paratransit Services for People with Disabilities: Yes You Can Reduce Their Costs

But the problem is that time isn’t on the side of public transportation. Indeed, a federal court has recently ruled against the MTA because of accessibility issues.

The lawsuit was filed after the MTA renovated Middletown Road station in the Bronx where no elevator was installed for people with disabilities to access the station.

However, the ADA requires the installation of an elevator whenever a public transit network renovates a station in a way that affects its usability regardless of the cost. The only concern remains the technical feasibility of such renovations. 

It’s to be noted that only 25% of New York City’s 472 subway stations were accessible in 2018 thus leaving behind people with disabilities who cannot ride with the MTA.

Fortunately, the MTA is committed to making accessibility and inclusive mobility a reality for them by focusing on digital solutions like Evelity.

How Innovation Promises to Revolutionize Accessibility in the New York City Subway

Bear in mind that in the United States, 45% of Americans have no access to public transit. This means that what happens in New York City could set an example for other major cities in the country. 

With phygital solutions, inclusive mobility is within our grasp. Public transit can truly be accessible and inclusive for all users. The question now is: are you ready for more accessibility?

Want to know more about the accessibility of public transportation? Check out these articles:

MBTA: a Global Model of Accessible Public Transportation

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

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

Published on November 18th, 2022

© Okeenea

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A blind woman uses Evelity in the Lyon metro for inclusive mobility

The combination of both accessible equipment and digital solutions enables public transit to be inclusive and accessible. With phygital, riders with disabilities can better interact with the accessible solutions at their disposal within a public transit network.

writer

Carole Martinez

Carole Martinez

Content Manager & Copywriter

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How to Foster Inclusive Mobility at Public Transit?

How to Foster Inclusive Mobility at Public Transit?

How to Foster Inclusive Mobility at Public Transit?You probably have heard of inclusive mobility but do you know what it actually means? For public transit all over the world, this notion gets more and more important. And more realistic to implement as many...

The Ultimate Guide to Accessible Pedestrian Signals

The Ultimate Guide to Accessible Pedestrian Signals

The Ultimate Guide to Accessible Pedestrian Signals  Table of contents What are accessible pedestrian signals?Why do cities have accessible pedestrian signals?Who are APS for?How do audible traffic signals work exactly?What is pedestrian detection?Why are...

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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.

Paratransit Services for People with Disabilities: Yes You Can Reduce Their Costs

Paratransit Services for People with Disabilities: Yes You Can Reduce Their Costs

A man in a wheelchair in the streets

Paratransit Services for People with Disabilities: Yes You Can Reduce Their Costs

As a chief executive officer of a transit authority, you know how challenging it is to provide a reliable public transit system to all riders. And how expensive it is to set up paratransit services for people with disabilities.

But you can reduce their costs while maintaining a quality service for all users. How exactly? With an innovative app that can guide people with disabilities within your public transit network. 

Technology, combined with accessible physical equipment, can have a significant change for the everyday lives of people with disabilities. A change towards inclusive mobility. 

After all, paratransit services have only been set up to let public transit systems have time to be more accessible. And it seems this time has come.

Buckle up to find out what the future of transportation has in stock for you. You’ll see this future isn’t that far away…

What solution can be more cost-effective than paratransit services?

Let’s take a look at innovative technologies, more specifically an indoor navigation app conceived for people with disabilities: Evelity.

A single app that can help riders with disabilities navigate your public transit system with autonomy:

Evelity is designed to suit every type of profile:

     ⊗ A blind or visually impaired user has audio instructions thanks to VoiceOver and TalkBack.

     ⊗ A deaf or hard of hearing user has text instructions.

     ⊗ A person with reduced mobility like a wheelchair user benefits from optimized and step-free routes.

     ⊗ A person with intellectual disabilities has simplified interfaces.

⊗ It provides riders with disabilities with more autonomy: they just have to use their smartphone to be guided within your public transit network. 84% of them use a smartphone on a daily basis.

⊗ They can also have more spontaneity. Something they don’t have with paratransit services as they need to book their trip at least 48h in advance. With an app, no more on-demand transportation, they can rely on public transport just like everyone else.

But why is it worth it for you?

⊗ More riders with disabilities who use your subway or your bus means less paratransit services to handle. Consequently, your costs related to these services are reduced by simply making Evelity accessible to your users.

⊗ Less carbon emissions: more people using public transportation means less paratransit vehicles on the roads. Definitely good for the environment. 

⊗ You have a positive impact on people’s lives: thanks to a more accessible public transit, people with disabilities are offered the same choices as other riders. They can choose to go to work by bus or by subway. They can get around with more freedom.

⊗ You can foster inclusion: you give your public transit system a universal sense. All are welcome, regardless of their capabilities. 

⊗ You can improve an existing service and not just for riders with disabilities. It’s not just them that can use Evelity. But also the elderly who may feel anxious in a complex environment, tourists who don’t speak the language, people who have never used your subway before…

Evelity is currently being tested at the JaySt-MetroTech subway station in New York City. The MTA is committed to providing an accessible and inclusive subway network. It has perfectly understood that improving the mobility of people with disabilities within their subway is key to enhancing their experience and quality of life.

But the navigation app is fully deployed on the entire subway network of Marseilles, France. It has become the first subway system to bet on this innovative solution. A technology that focuses on users to better meet their needs. 

What should you implement for Evelity to improve the accessibility of your public transit network?

Have you heard of the term “phygital”? The words “physical” and “digital” are blended to combine both worlds.

Phygital can be seen as a bridge connecting technology and physical equipment. The goal is to provide users with a unique and interactive experience. 

As you must have guessed, Evelity represents the digital world. An app that guides riders with disabilities. But for this app to be used, your subway stations or bus stops need to be accessible in the first place.

That’s where accessible physical equipment takes place. People with disabilities need to rely on access ramps, guide paths, audio beacons to locate the subway entrance…

Physical accessibility completes technology. Phygital provides the best of both worlds. That’s how your public transit network can be accessible. Because if it’s more accessible then people with disabilities won’t need to use paratransit services. And eventually, the costs related to them will be reduced.  

How much do paratransit services cost?

According to the National Transit Database (NTD), transit operators spend 5$ on a fixed route bus trip. For paratransit services, its cost goes from $60 to $90. 

Over the years, the costs of paratransit services have kept increasing due to the growing of the aging population. 

Indeed, the average cost per paratransit trip increased by 20% between 2015 and 2018. This represents tens of millions for transit authorities which means a huge portion of their budget is dedicated to guarantee users paratransit services. 

But the problem is that this money isn’t committed to address accessibility issues in public transportation. It’s there to maintain a service that has been created to be temporary.

Why are paratransit services so costly?

The day-to-day operations of paratransit services are extremely expensive for transit authorities: gas for vehicles, the vehicles themselves and their servicing, the wages of the drivers…

⊗ Paratransit services focus on individuals instead of groups of people. They can’t group trips efficiently otherwise people with disabilities would have to wait too long and miss their appointments.

⊗ Depending on the area to cover, a single trip can be expensive as it’s difficult to carry many passengers in a vehicle.

⊗ People with serious disabilities may need to take longer to board and deboard. This affects productivity for a vehicle of paratransit services.

Why does your public transit network need such a service in the first place?

When enacted, the ADA also specifically focused on public transportation. By this, we mean that public transportation has to provide people with disabilities with an accessible network to easily get around: a seamless mobility chain.

Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, the same holds true for making public transit accessible for riders with disabilities. After all, we know it’s not easy for a subway to be accessible. The refurbishments necessary for a very old system with sprawling stations can be enormous.

That’s why the ADA has set up requirements for paratransit services: they take place within ¾ mile of all fixed routes of public transit for people who cannot use the public bus system or for those who cannot get to a point where they could access it. 

But the ultimate goal is to have a fully accessible public transit system for the aging population and the 61 million people with disabilities in the United States to navigate in their city. This is even more striking when we think about the 45% of Americans who have no access to public transportation. 

That’s why a navigation app like Evelity, combined with accessible equipment, can be helpful. Thanks to this app, your public transit system is more accessible and inclusive to all. 

People with disabilities are ready to use technology to improve their mobility. You can make this a reality by implementing an indoor navigation app suited to meet their profiles. Paratransit services can be significantly reduced. And the same applies to their costs. Now the question is are you ready for more inclusive mobility?

Want to know more about accessible public transportation? Check out these articles:

MBTA: a Global Model of Accessible Public Transportation

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

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

Published on October 21st, 2022

Man in a wheelchair: © Unsplash

JaySt-MetroTech subway station: © Okeenea

media

The entrance of the JaySt-MetroTech subway station in New York City with turnstiles

But the ultimate goal is to have a fully accessible public transit system for the aging population and the 61 million people with disabilities in the United States to navigate in their city. This is even more striking when we think about the 45% of Americans who have no access to public transportation.

writer

Carole Martinez

Carole Martinez

Content Manager & Copywriter

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Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

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How to Foster Inclusive Mobility at Public Transit?

How to Foster Inclusive Mobility at Public Transit?

How to Foster Inclusive Mobility at Public Transit?You probably have heard of inclusive mobility but do you know what it actually means? For public transit all over the world, this notion gets more and more important. And more realistic to implement as many...

The Ultimate Guide to Accessible Pedestrian Signals

The Ultimate Guide to Accessible Pedestrian Signals

The Ultimate Guide to Accessible Pedestrian Signals  Table of contents What are accessible pedestrian signals?Why do cities have accessible pedestrian signals?Who are APS for?How do audible traffic signals work exactly?What is pedestrian detection?Why are...

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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.

The Crosswalk: Thousands of Years of Evolution

The Crosswalk: Thousands of Years of Evolution

A crosswalk with black and white stripes used by a lot of pedestrians

The Crosswalk: Thousands of Years of Evolution

Do you know how many crosswalks are located near your home or your workplace? Do you even pay attention to them? They help us cross the street and yet, they’re invisible to us. 

But there’s more than meets the eye. Especially when we go back to Antiquity. At a time when the city of Pompeii was still a city, the first crosswalk emerged. 

Impressed yet? Wait until you see how innovating the crosswalk can be nowadays. Here, we’ll focus solely on crosswalks at signalized intersections so let’s cross the road together for a time travel across the ages. You’ll never use a crosswalk the same way as before… 

What is a crosswalk?

A crosswalk, also known as a pedestrian crossing in the UK, designates a place where pedestrians can cross the street or the road. 

It can be paved or marked to indicate pedestrians have the right-of-way. This means vehicles stop to let them cross with safety. 

What does it look like?

There’s a particularity for crosswalks in the United States: they may be marked with white stripes or not. It depends on the cities as there’s no specific regulation regarding this aspect. 

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) provides two main methods for marked crosswalks:

Two parallel white lines from one side of the road to the other. The width of the lines goes from 12 to 14 inches. A stop line across lanes going into the intersection to indicate vehicles where they have to stop.

Continental stripes that look like the zebra crossings in the UK: several bars across the crosswalk from 12 to 24 inches wide. The stripes are also 12 to 24 inches apart.

These marked crosswalks represent the common ones you may have encountered in the U.S. but what did they look like when they first emerged? 

The birth of the first crosswalk

Let’s put a foot in history, a history that happened more than 2000 years ago in the ancient city of Pompeii, more precisely before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.

Now the ruins of Pompeii near Naples, Italy attract thousands of tourists every year who want to see what Roman life looked like. But they overlook the first ever crosswalk created.

It consisted of blocks raised on the road. Pedestrians could cross the street without having to walk onto the road itself. These blocks were implemented across the whole city enabling pedestrians to reach the streets from a sidewalk to the other. Thanks to the spaces between the blocks, horse-drawn carts could easily come and go.

1869: the failure of the first pedestrian crossing signal

Another introduction to the crosswalk appeared in December 1868 along with the first traffic lights at Parliament Square in London. 

Railroad engineer John Peake Knight came up with an innovative idea to allow pedestrians to cross this busy part of the square: two mobile signs attached to semaphore arms that were manually lowered by a policeman. They could signal the amplified red and green coloured gas lights.

But in January 1869, the gaslight exploded, killing the policeman who manipulated the semaphore arms. The tragedy put an end at the development of crosswalks and traffic lights.

The 1930s: an attempt to provide more safety to pedestrians

In the 1930s, both the United States and the United Kingdom tried to control traffic and the safety of pedestrians. More and more cars were on the roads creating more and more accidents.

Both countries tested various designs but not one in particular stuck. For example, the UK used metal studs in the road and poles on the side. These metal studs marked the crosswalk for pedestrians who could easily spot them. But it wasn’t the case for drivers. They could only feel the raised studs once their car was on them. This means it was too late for them to slow down or stop.

1951: the zebra crossing becomes the norm across the world

The first zebra crossing was implemented in October 1951 in Slough, England. After experimenting with several designs, the black and white stripes proved to be efficient: they could be easily seen by drivers and pedestrians alike from afar. High contrasting colors such as black and white also help pedestrians with low vision find the crosswalk and align to cross.

Countries all over the world have chosen the zebra crossing. They may have different variations though. But they all agree the black and white stripes ensure the safety of pedestrians. 

How can crosswalks evolve?

It’s not because black and white stripes have spread throughout the world that crosswalks can’t evolve. Especially when the safety of pedestrians is at stake.

Cities experiment with new technologies to secure crosswalks for all road users. 

3D crosswalks

An optical illusion that makes it look like the painted crosswalk is raised. The goal of 3D crosswalks is to make motorists slow down when they spot them. 

Different countries implement this creative solution: the UK, Germany, China, India and the U.S…

Crosswalk lighting

You may encounter different systems of lighting:

An embedded flashing-light system or an in-pavement flashing-light system: LED lights warn motorists that pedestrians are crossing the crosswalk. They start flashing thanks to a motion detection device. This means they’re activated as soon as a pedestrian walks up to the crosswalk.

Overhead crosswalk lights: streetlights mounted above the road so that at night time drivers can perfectly see the crosswalk. And most of all if a pedestrian is crossing. A uniform and bright light that provides better visibility and consequently, safety.

Countdown timers

A lot of countries use countdown timers for both pedestrians and motorists to know when the red signal for pedestrians will be on. 

In the United States, countdown timers have been a mandatory feature since the MUTCD’s 2009 edition. But in France, they’re only beginning to be implemented. 

Although this solution enables the safety of road users, for blind and visually impaired people countdown timers can’t help them cross the street. That’s why accessible pedestrian signals remain essential for their mobility.

The Ultimate Guide to Accessible Pedestrian Signals

From what we’ve seen, safety could be the key word to describe a crosswalk. As pedestrians, we all are vulnerable when we cross the street but we may not always be aware of it. With new technologies and new ways of conceiving roadways, pedestrian safety represents a commitment for many cities. How does your city fare about its crosswalks?

Want to know more about pedestrian safety? Check out these articles:

Vision Zero: a Revolutionary Approach to Road Safety

How to Make Shared Streets Truly Shared By All?

Blind and Visually Impaired Pedestrians: What Are Their Difficulties When Crossing the Street?

Smombies: the New Safety Challenge for Cities in the 21st Century

Published on September 23rd, 2022

© Unsplash

media

A crosswalk called zebra crossing in the UK

The first zebra crossing was implemented in October 1951 in Slough, England. After experimenting with several designs, the black and white stripes proved to be efficient: they could be easily seen by drivers and pedestrians alike from afar.

writer

Carole Martinez

Carole Martinez

Content Manager & Copywriter

stay updated

Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

other articles for you

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How to Foster Inclusive Mobility at Public Transit?

How to Foster Inclusive Mobility at Public Transit?

How to Foster Inclusive Mobility at Public Transit?You probably have heard of inclusive mobility but do you know what it actually means? For public transit all over the world, this notion gets more and more important. And more realistic to implement as many...

The Ultimate Guide to Accessible Pedestrian Signals

The Ultimate Guide to Accessible Pedestrian Signals

The Ultimate Guide to Accessible Pedestrian Signals  Table of contents What are accessible pedestrian signals?Why do cities have accessible pedestrian signals?Who are APS for?How do audible traffic signals work exactly?What is pedestrian detection?Why are...

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.

How to Create a Smart City for Deaf and Hearing Impaired People?

How to Create a Smart City for Deaf and Hearing Impaired People?

People walking in the streets of New York City

How to Create a Smart City for Deaf and Hearing Impaired People?

 

Is it challenging for a smart city to be accessible for deaf and hearing impaired people? Yes and no.

It is challenging in the sense that a smart city that meets the needs of the deaf community fosters inclusion. The concern is broad. But it’s not that complex to implement. 

From the conception of your smart city, take into account the difficulties met by people with hearing impairments. The smart city is the future. It needs to be exemplary in terms of accessibility.

Let’s see what an accessible smart city looks like for the deaf and hard of hearing and for you as well as decision maker.

What is a smart city?

Putting people first thanks to the use of technology. That’s how we could define what a smart city is.

It relies on information and communication technology (ICT) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect residents with their city.

This means a smart city serves its people. It collects data and information from people, transportation, devices and buildings. Everything that enables a smart city to improve its operational services.

That’s what makes people’s lives easier. And we can even go further by ensuring the smart city is accessible for deaf and hearing impaired people. 

The deaf community needs to easily access information on public transportation, real-time traffic… A smart city represents the perfect opportunity to foster inclusion.

What solutions can you find in a smart city for deaf and hearing impaired people?

The question could also be: what do deaf and hard of hearing people need to fully enjoy their city? Let’s take a closer look at their struggles in a regular city and the solutions that can be found in a smart one:

Difficulties of the hearing impaired

Solutions for an accessible smart city

Accessing real-time information on public transit: it may only be available through audio.

The MaaS platform: it regroups all modes of public transit at the disposal of users. Deaf and hearing impaired people can plan their trip according to their preferences. 

Having real-time traffic information on buses

Smart urban furniture like smart benches where users can charge their phones and get free WiFi. If installed at a bus stop, deaf and hard of hearing people can access real-time information about the bus timetables.

Having real-time traffic information when driving

A GPS with real-time traffic updates like Garmin or TomTom.

Finding their way in a complex venue like a shopping mall or a public transport network: they may lack visual signage.

An indoor navigation app like Evelity can help them find their bearings. The app adapts to the user’s profile. Deaf and hard of hearing people have text instructions.

Communicating with hearing employees: the venue may not have audio induction loops and the staff may lack training in knowing how to interact with deaf or hard of hearing people. 

An instant transcription app like Ava: the conversation is transcribed for deaf people who don’t have to lip-read.

A live transcription app for phone calls like RogerVoice: when phoning a venue to make enquiries, people with hearing impairments receive a typed text of what the other person is saying. They can reply thanks to voice synthesis.

Of course, there are solutions to conceive a smart city that meets the needs of different categories of people like smart buildings.

These smart infrastructures aim at enhancing the user experience. From their conception, everything is designed to meet the needs of people: the elderly, people with disabilities with various capabilities… 

Just like a smart city, smart buildings collect and share data for users. Deaf and hearing impaired people can easily have access to any information within a smart building. Especially since they rely on phygital to provide universal accessibility.

Check out more information about smart buildings:

The 5 Keys of Tomorrow’s Smart Building 

As you can see, the most important challenge for a smart city to be accessible and inclusive for deaf and hearing impaired people is to maintain the chain of information at all times.

A smart city is molded to suit its residents. Even though technology is at its center, it’s managed and controlled by humans. It’s at the service of deaf and hard of hearing people and ensures accessibility.

Why should you focus on an accessible smart city for deaf and hard of hearing people?

You want a smarter, better and more efficient city? Then focusing on conceiving an accessible smart city is the best way to achieve it.

There are many benefits in creating a smart city fit for deaf and hearing impaired people:

Your city works as an ally: a smart city easily removes accessibility barriers like accessing information for the deaf community.

Your city is at the forefront of inclusion: keep in mind inclusion is not a trend. It’s meant to stay. What you implement has a purpose and truly makes a difference.

Your city is more effective thanks to data collection: you can analyze different types of information regarding the operational services of your smart city. This means you can know how deaf and hearing impaired people get around and what they need to make their lives easier.

Your city invests in what benefits its residents: through data collection, you know where to inject your money. You can better spend your city’s budget on projects that truly meet the needs of deaf and hard of hearing people. 

As you can see, the smart city you conceive can be accessible to the 48 million of deaf and hearing impaired people who live in the United States. Inclusive solutions regarding communication and information represent a true asset to put your city on the map. You have the opportunity to better serve different categories of people. It’s up to you to seize it.

Want to know more about the issues of the deaf community? Check out these articles:

12 Tips to Welcome a Deaf or Hard of Hearing Person

Hearing Impaired People: a Multitude of Profiles for Different Needs

5 Must-Have Apps for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People in 2022

Published on September 9th, 2022

media

The tram of Cincinnati passing in the city

The most important challenge for a smart city to be accessible and inclusive for deaf and hearing impaired people is to maintain the chain of information at all times.

writer

Carole Martinez

Carole Martinez

Content Manager

stay updated

Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

other articles for you

share our article!

more articles

How to Foster Inclusive Mobility at Public Transit?

How to Foster Inclusive Mobility at Public Transit?

How to Foster Inclusive Mobility at Public Transit?You probably have heard of inclusive mobility but do you know what it actually means? For public transit all over the world, this notion gets more and more important. And more realistic to implement as many...

The Ultimate Guide to Accessible Pedestrian Signals

The Ultimate Guide to Accessible Pedestrian Signals

The Ultimate Guide to Accessible Pedestrian Signals  Table of contents What are accessible pedestrian signals?Why do cities have accessible pedestrian signals?Who are APS for?How do audible traffic signals work exactly?What is pedestrian detection?Why are...

NEVER miss the latest news about the Smart City.

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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 to Create a Smart City for Blind and Visually Impaired People?

How to Create a Smart City for Blind and Visually Impaired People?

A blind woman is using Evelity as she's about to enter a smart building

How to Create a Smart City for Blind and Visually Impaired People?

 

A smart city for blind and visually impaired people makes their lives easier. Especially regarding their mobility. Indeed, they need to rely on efficient public transportation, to know at what time they can get the bus, to have obstacle-free routes, to easily actuate accessible pedestrian signals…

Basically, this means they need to be more connected to the operational services of their city. And that’s exactly what a smart city does. But to better meet their needs, a smart city has to be accessible and inclusive. 

How can a city be smart? How can you conceive an accessible smart city? Let’s take a look at digital solutions that connect blind and visually impaired people to the smart city!

What is a smart city?

A smart city is all about connectivity. It connects residents with their city. What’s the point exactly?

Well, to put it simply, a smart city is at the service of its inhabitants and tourists. Its purpose is to make their lives easier so that they can fully enjoy it. 

But what makes a city a smart one? How does a smart city work? 

It all lies in information and communication technology (ICT) and the Internet of Things (IoT). A smart city focuses on collecting data from residents, devices, buildings and transportation in order to improve its operational services.

This means that a smart city relies on technology to better serve its community. Consequently, a smart city is efficient: it offers public transit users real-time information on traffic, timetables, optimized routes…

For us at Okeenea, a smart city represents the gateway for a more accessible and inclusive city. After all, if its sole purpose is to help its citizens navigate the city more easily, then it includes people with disabilities. 

And in this article, we’ll focus on blind and visually impaired people who need to feel safe and free to get around with more spontaneity and independence in their smart city. 

How can you design a smart city fit for blind and visually impaired people?

What digital solutions can you implement for your smart city to meet the needs of people with vision disabilities? Seeing that mobility represents one of the most challenging issues for blind and visually impaired people, we’ll only see this aspect.

Let’s see how you can foster accessibility and inclusion:

Smart benches: even our urban furniture can be smart. A solar smart bench enables users to charge their phones and access free WiFi. And of course, they can still sit to rest for a while. A blind person can wait at a bus stop and use WiFi to know exactly at what time the bus arrives. A simple solution to access real-time information. 

You can install smart benches at parks, bus shelters, squares, arenas, shopping malls, universities… Check out manufacturers like EnGoPlanet, Strawberrye, SEEDiA… 

Safe Smart CLE: an initiative set up in Cleveland, Ohio to replace street lights with LEDs. The goal is to save money and energy while ensuring the safety of all citizens. Indeed, cameras are installed at crime hotspots, main streets and intersections. LEDs will benefit visually impaired people as they rely on good lighting to safely get around. 

MaaS: a trip planner that regroups all modes of transportation. Blind and visually impaired people can access real-time information regarding traffic, public transit networks or shared mobility. The platform adapts to the user’s needs. 

Mobility as a Service was born in Finland but is now implemented in several European cities like Madrid, Spain, Budapest, Hungary, Antwerp, Belgium… The city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has recently been using MaaS.

Wayfindr: an indoor navigation technology especially conceived for blind and visually impaired people. It consists of audio navigation to remove accessibility barriers users can meet in venues. 

Wayfindr is a non-profit organization set up in London, United Kingdom. It’s the first internationally-approved standard for accessible audio navigation. 

NaviLens: an indoor navigation app developed by a Spanish company in Murcia. Blind and visually impaired people use their smartphone’s camera to scan QR codes laid out on the ground by following tactile guide paths. 

This phygital solution mostly equips public transit networks in Murcia and Barcelona. 

Evelity: our indoor navigation app that has been designed for people with disabilities. But it adapts to the user’s profile. This means that Evelity provides step-by-step audio instructions to blind and visually impaired users but that users with different disabilities and capabilities can set it up according to their needs. 

Our wayfinding app is perfect for complex venues where getting around can be difficult for people with vision impairments. Evelity equips the subway of Marseilles, France. It is currently being tested by New Yorkers at the JaySt-MetroTech subway station

But Evelity is also useful in museums: the app guides blind and visually impaired visitors from one exhibition room to another and it provides them with contextual information on the artworks. It works like a cultural mediation tool. The Maison Victor Hugo museum in Paris, France chose Evelity to offer their visitors an unique and interactive experience.

And that’s exactly what phygital solutions are for.

What Is a Phygital Experience and How Can It Improve the Accessibility of Your Venue?

aBeacon: an accessible pedestrian signal that we’ve developed as well at Okeenea. It collects data for smart cities to know the number of times blind and visually impaired people have activated it. Open data is also essential for pedestrians with vision disabilities to know what crossings are equipped with accessible pedestrian signals. This information enables them to create their own accessible routes. Plus, aBeacon can be actuated with three different modes of activation: the regular pushbutton, a remote control and a smartphone app. 

The remote control and the smartphone app reduce noise pollution as aBeacon is only activated when necessary. An on-demand and remote activation that helps blind and visually impaired people better locate the beginning of the crossing. 

This innovative accessible pedestrian signal is currently being tested in a crossing at New York City. The first user testimonies have been very positive. Blind and visually impaired pedestrians liked using several modes of activation to actuate aBeacon. 

Why Is aBeacon a Game Changer Regarding Accessible Pedestrian Signals?

NAVIGUEO+ HIFI audio beacons: located at points of interest such as the entrance of a subway station or a public venue, they provide practical information to people with vision disabilities. They can better locate the entrance of a building. Just like aBeacon, these audio beacons we’ve conceived can be triggered by a remote control and a smartphone app. 

The example of Marburg: a smart city for blind and visually impaired people 

You may never have heard of Marburg in Germany but this city perfectly represents how smart cities can enhance accessibility and inclusion. It’s often referred to as the Mecca for the blind by newspapers.

This smart city has been conceived taking into account the needs of blind and visually impaired people. It has implemented:

Beeping traffic lights,

Talking bus stops,

Tactile signals of hazards or barriers,

Raised maps and floor plans,

Braille menus in restaurants…

All of these solutions enable blind and visually impaired people to enjoy their smart city. But the key in their success resides in fostering a culture where residents are used to interacting with one another regardless of their disabilities and capabilities. 

Cultural acceptance of the blind and visually impaired people made the smart city of Marburg unique in its approach. This proves that from the moment you integrate accessibility and inclusion into the conception of your smart city, you create a city focused on the wellbeing of its residents.

Why will a smart city for blind and visually impaired people become the new norm? 

This question is in fact tricky. A smart city that meets the needs of blind and visually impaired people has to become the norm. But it actually has to do the same for all those with disabilities. We’ll be even more inclusive: a smart city has to adapt to people in general, whether they have reduced mobility or not. 

As we’re focusing here on the mobility of people with visual impairments in a smart city, let’s explore what difficulties they face:

Navigating routes with obstacles or barriers (when there are street works for example),

Crossing the street when there’s no accessible pedestrian signal,

Locating the beginning of the crossing to press the pushbutton in order to actuate the APS,

Locating the entrance of a building,

Locating the entrance of a bus or any other public transportation,

Accessing information about public transit timetables, traffic… when it’s not vocalized,

Navigating their way in a shared street,

Getting around in a complex venue…

A smart city enables blind and visually impaired people to easily get around. We’ve mentioned earlier how it collects information and data. Open data regarding street works can be useful for them. Indeed, this can help them know what routes are blocked. They can then create their own obstacle-free itinerary to better navigate the city. 

Find out more about their getting around in a city with our article:

Blind Pedestrians: What Are Their Difficulties When Crossing the Street?

The United States counts around 12 million people with vision disabilities. This doesn’t even comprehend the entire Los Angeles county. We can no longer afford to create cities where a portion of its citizens struggle to get around and don’t live comfortably.

It’s time for more accessibility and inclusion to conceive a smart city where blind and visually impaired people can easily navigate into. The city has to adapt to them, not the other way around. 

Want to know more about digital solutions for the visually impaired? Check out these articles:

Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities: Is Human Assistance Really Obsolete for Their Mobility?

The Smartphone: a Revolution for the Blind and Visually Impaired!

Published on August 12th, 2022

media

A blind man has reached the other side of the crossing after actuating accessible pedestrian signals

Cultural acceptance of the blind and visually impaired people made the smart city of Marburg unique in its approach. This proves that from the moment you integrate accessibility and inclusion into the conception of your smart city, you create a city focused on the wellbeing of its residents.

writer

Carole Martinez

Carole Martinez

Content Manager

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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.