7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

Two wheelchair users share drinks with other people

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

 

Who hasn’t been uncomfortable dealing with a person with disabilities? We’ve all been afraid to drop a clanger, to be clumsy and to behave badly. It’s normal to feel disconcerted in a new situation when we don’t understand the appropriate codes. But it’s actually not that difficult. Here are a few tips that will work every time, regardless of the disability type of the person you’re talking with!

1. Stay natural

Alright, it’s easier said than done… But you need to realize that the person in front of you is above all a human being with the same needs as anyone. Meaning that past the initial moment of surprise, even the moment of panic (because this can also happen…), you simply have to say hello and start talking to the person in front of you.

2. Ask questions

Yes, it’s a new situation and yes, it’s normal not to have all the keys in hand. Simply ask the person you’re talking with what you can do for them. They know best how to explain it to you.

3. Don’t think for them

Because we want to do things right, we often tend to anticipate what a person with disabilities will say or do. But it’s a trap! There’s a good chance you’ll be wide of the mark concerning their expectations and this may cause frustration that could make the person with disabilities aggressive towards you! Give them time to express themselves.

4. Offer your help, don’t impose it

Some people with disabilities don’t dare to ask for help. You’ll make it easier for them if the offer to help comes from you. But do it in an open way so that the person you’re talking to can feel free to tell you if they need it or not.

5. Make sure you’re talking to the person with disabilities before anything else

If a person with disabilities is with someone like a caregiver, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t communicate with you. It’s in fact rarely the case. But even if it was, it’s not a reason to ignore them in the conversation. Just speak directly to them. The caregiver they’re with will naturally take over if it’s necessary.

6. Don’t take offense if some behaviors seem strange to you

There’s nothing more normal than to feel disconcerted facing an attitude or a behavior that’s out of the ordinary. But you need to realize that some types of disabilities may be the cause and that it’s completely out of control. Try to disregard it and treat the person with disabilities as an adult no matter what.

7. Don’t pet a dog without first asking his owner

Obviously, this advice concerns every dog but it’s particularly the case with guide dogs or service dogs used for other types of disabilities. Petting them while working could distract them and thus put in danger the people they’re accompanying.

 

We hope these basic tips will enable you to feel more confident next time you’re dealing with a person with disabilities in your venue or somewhere else! You’ll find other tips adapted to specific types of disabilities such as 12 Tips to Welcome a Deaf or Hard of Hearing Person and 9 Tips to Welcome a Person with an Intellectual Disability.

Please keep in mind that there are trainings to help you and your personnel best assist customers with disabilities. Thanks to qualified organizations, you’ll be able to talk about dealing with people with disabilities without any taboos!

 

 

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Some people with disabilities don’t dare to ask for help. You’ll make it easier for them if the offer to help comes from you.

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Lise Wagner

Lise Wagner

Accessibility Expert

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7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities  Who hasn’t been uncomfortable dealing with a person with disabilities? We’ve all been afraid to drop a clanger, to be clumsy and to behave badly. It’s normal to feel disconcerted in a new situation when we don’t...

5 must-have apps for deaf and hard of hearing people in 2020

5 must-have apps for deaf and hard of hearing people in 2020

5 Must-Have Apps for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People in 2020  Technological breakthroughs can do miracles. For the 466 million people worldwide having disabling hearing loss (WHO), smartphones have become an essential tool to facilitate social interaction due to...

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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.

Artificial Intelligence and Accessibility: Examples of a Technology that Serves People with Disabilities

Artificial Intelligence and Accessibility: Examples of a Technology that Serves People with Disabilities

A machine learning brain

Artificial Intelligence and Accessibility: Examples of a Technology that Serves People with Disabilities

Many of us think that artificial intelligence represents an abstract and futuristic notion we only see in sci-fi films with humanoid robots and holograms. However it’s more and more grounded in our reality reaching various fields and categories of people including people with disabilities. Artificial intelligence truly revolutionizes accessibility and inclusion! Thanks to AI technology solutions, people with disabilities can drastically improve their everyday lives. 

We had previously seen that smartphones are a powerful tool that help users with a visual impairment. Indeed, many apps enable them to remain autonomous. For example, thanks to Seeing AI, visually impaired people can easily read their mail by placing documents under the smartphone camera. AI technology can apply to any type of disability profile. For instance, people with reduced mobility can control everything at home just by using their voice with a virtual personal assistant such as Amazon Alexa.

Let’s take a look at AI and how it can enhance accessibility thanks to a few examples of innovative solutions! The future starts now!

 

What is artificial intelligence and how does it work regarding accessibility?

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to smart machines or algorithms that are capable of performing cognitive tasks usually made by humans. This includes different technology solutions that mimic humans and use logic from playing chess to solving equations. Machine learning is one of the technologies that is part of AI: when algorithms are exposed to more data, they can learn and improve from it in order to anticipate consumers’ needs. For example, Google uses machine learning: its algorithms collect what Internet users searched and what they liked on social networks in order to provide more personalized search results and recommendations. 

Nearly 4 billion people in the world use Google search engine, therefore AI, which is perceived as a social good. Anybody can have access to it including people with disabilities. Technology in general and artificial intelligence in particular have a key role in accessibility. It’s not just about finding the latest innovations but mostly about providing a solution at the service of a category of people in order to improve their lives. What can AI do towards accessibility?

It can remove accessibility barriers through different solutions:

⊗ Image recognition for people with a visual impairment,

⊗ Facial recognition for people with a visual impairment,

⊗ Lip-reading recognition for people with a hearing impairment,

⊗ Text summarization for people with a mental impairment,

⊗ Real-time captioning or translations for people with a hearing impairment or even people who don’t speak the language.

AI has a huge impact on people with disabilities’ everyday lives: a person with a mental impairment can easily comprehend the world around him thanks to text summarization. What may at first be a complicated message to decipher turns out to be an easy-to-understand text. Things that at first were difficult or impossible for them are now easily accessible on a daily basis. AI enables people with disabilities to step into a world where their difficulties are understood and taken into account. Technology adapts and helps transform the world into an inclusive place with artificial intelligence accessibility. There is a certain sense of equality as AI puts everybody, with or without disabilities, at the same level.

 

What are the benefits of artificial intelligence regarding accessibility for people with disabilities?

We’ve seen the main points regarding AI accessibility but concretely, where is AI put into action to improve people with disabilities’ lives? How does AI help them remain autonomous? Let’s focus on 4 major situations where AI adds value:

Communicating with others and being connected

Depending on the type of disability and profile, communicating with others can be a challenge. The same holds true for staying connected to others in a world that’s more and more digitized with the growing importance of social media and our dependence to the Internet. But technology and AI leave no one behind and can be at the service of people with disabilities. A lot of apps use artificial intelligence to favor accessibility.

For blind or visually impaired people:

 VoiceOver: a screen reader directly integrated on iPhones. Although its main use is to enunciate any email or textual message, VoiceOver also uses AI to describe apps icons, the battery level and even in part images. 

 TalkBack: the equal of VoiceOver for Android smartphones. It enables users to fully use their smartphones.

 Siri: iPhones virtual assistant. Thanks to voice control, users simply have to enunciate their request: from doing a Google search or dictating a text message to send to a friend. People with a visual impairment can easily use Siri and stay in touch with others.

 Cortana: a virtual assistant created by Microsoft and implemented on Windows. It helps blind or visually impaired users to navigate on their computer using simply their voice. In a sense, it’s similar to Siri.

 Google Assistant: an app activated by voice control. Users can easily set up an alarm or manage their schedule, the same way as Siri.

For deaf or hard of hearing people:

 Virtual assistants like Siri and Google Assistant for the users to fully use their smartphones and be connected to others.

 Ava: an instant transcription app that uses AI to instantly transcribe the conversation of a group of people. Its algorithm adds punctuation, the name of the person who is talking and the necessary vocabulary from the user’s dictionary. An easy way for people with a hearing impairment to be included and to follow a conversation with several people without lip-reading. 

 RogerVoice: a French instant transcription app for group conversations available in 90 languages. It works the same way as Ava.

For people with physical disabilities:

⊗ Virtual assistants like Siri, Google Assistant and Google Voice Access: people with reduced mobility can use their smartphone by voice command. Google Voice Access was especially created for people with reduced dexterity.

⊗ IFTTT: an app that connects other apps so that the user with poor dexterity can use all his smartphone’s functionalities without struggling. It creates combinations with the apps to automatically perform tasks such as reading an email aloud and sending a tweet.

Even people with speech impediments can benefit from AI technology with the app Voiceitt. Thanks to machine learning, Voiceitt can easily understand people with brain injuries or Parkinson’s and whose speech may first seem difficult to apprehend. This app normalizes their speech to create an output of audio or text so that people with speech impediments can still communicate with others and be understood.

Of course, AI apps and smartphones aren’t the only way for people with disabilities to communicate and to be connected to others. Web accessibility keeps improving to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) thus providing the same access and services to everybody regardless of their disabilities. 

Indeed designing an accessible website can be quite tricky but AI technology turns out to be a game-changer. A site’s design is scanned and analyzed thanks to machine learning. It can then improve its accessibility through many points:

⊗ A facial recognition with an AI software to replace CAPTCHAs that can be difficult to find for people with a visual impairment,

⊗ A keyboard navigation optimization via the “Tab” button for people with physical disabilities,

⊗ A voice-recognition or a speech-recognition technology like Google’s Project Euphonia for people with speech impairments to use the Internet thanks to sounds and gestures,

 Audio descriptions content for people with a visual impairment,

 Captions and translations of online videos for people with a hearing impairment like Microsoft Translator,

 Readjustments of graphic elements such as fonts, colors and spacing for people with a visual impairment,

⊗ A built-in library of idioms, slang and phrases that are unusually used for people with a mental impairment.

Machine learning mimics a browser, the same way it mimics humans, to automatically adapt what’s on the screen and make it accessible for people with disabilities. Artificial intelligence technology fully enhances accessibility and inclusion.

Getting around

For people with disabilities, mobility proves to be one of the most challenging issues to overcome. How can wheelchair users get around in the city in an autonomous and serene way when they constantly need to be aware of the location of lowered pavements and accessible toilets? In our article How to Help People with Disabilities Get a Better Experience on the Subway?, we saw that people with disabilities need to rigorously prepare every trip they make. Luckily for them, a lot of navigation apps based on AI technology can help them gain more autonomy and more spontaneity when they’re getting around.

 Google Maps: one of the most used GPS apps around the world. Visually impaired people or wheelchair users can prepare their trip in advance and visualize their route and the best means of transportation to use according to their profile. Thanks to the “wheelchair accessible” option, wheelchair users can know where ramps and elevators are located in the city. Plus the feature “accessible places” is useful for them to have more information about the layout of many premises: entrance, parking spots, restrooms, seating arrangements… This feature is also used by people with a visual impairment to find the exact location of a building entrance.

Moovit: a great app for people who use public transportation. It provides real-time traffic information and turns out to be helpful for people with a visual impairment when voice announcements aren’t activated on the bus for example. 

Wheelmap: it lists and maps all accessible public venues (restaurants, shops, cafés…). Even users can add data and information concerning the accessibility level of places. 

Soundscape: an app that describes blind people their surroundings with audio 3D technology. They can easily be aware of the points of interest near them and the intersections. Quite convenient to enjoy the city.

Evelity: the first indoor wayfinding app for people with disabilities. Regardless of their profile, they can easily navigate inside complex and busy places such as subway networks, colleges and universities, shopping malls, stadiums… Evelity works like a GPS and gives step by step instructions. It’s tailor-made to fit the users’ profiles and their needs:

→ Visually impaired users can set it up to work with VoiceOver and TalkBack screen readers so that they can have audio instructions.

→ Hearing impaired users can use text descriptions and icons.

→ Wheelchair users and people with reduced mobility benefit from optimized routes.

→ People with a cognitive impairment have simplified interfaces.

This innovative navigation app for people with disabilities is the perfect example of AI technology that enhances accessibility in general and people’s everyday lives in particular. 

Self-driving cars (also called autonomous cars or driverless cars) represent a new solution for the mobility of people with disabilities, regardless of their disabilities since they can help them get around more independently. People don’t need to ask a relative or to book a service when they need to get around by car. Self-driving cars use sensors, cameras, radars and AI to get to the chosen destination. Their algorithms collect all the necessary data about their environment like traffic lights, curbs, pedestrians…, by inputting Google Maps and Google Street View. Many companies from the car industry test or develop self-driving cars.

Living independently 

AI technology concerns any field and can thus enhance accessibility even at home. Virtual assistants can improve everybody’s lives and it’s particularly striking with people with disabilities. We’d previously talked about Siri on iPhones. But at home, with smart speakers like Amazon Echo with Alexa and Google Home with Google Assistant, people with disabilities can control everything by voice: from turning on the lights to setting up an alarm or listening to music in the living room. 

Any home object can be connected which means that a blind person can set up their oven just by asking Alexa or that a person with reduced dexterity can lower a room temperature just by using their voice. 

Even before arriving home, people with disabilities can still control their virtual assistants at home thanks to the app IFTTT. It connects different apps together, including virtual assistants like Alexa, to create combinations called “applets”. It’s very convenient for people with reduced dexterity: any single task can automatically be done by voice control. They can for example increase their thermostat on their way from work to be at ease once they arrive home. 

Having a connected smart home can sometimes be life saving: if a person with disabilities falls, a system previously set up can call up emergency services. People with disabilities can thus live alone knowing that they’re safe if something happens.

AI technology solutions enable people with disabilities to gain more autonomy and be comfortable in their own homes. AI takes accessibility to the next level. 

Accessing the same services as anybody

Inclusivity means that everybody has the right to access any services regardless of their profiles and disabilities. Blind people can read thanks to Braille and hearing impaired people can enjoy a movie thanks to subtitles. Here are a few non-exhaustive examples of artificial intelligence technology at the service of accessibility:

Braille AI Tutor: an innovative solution to compensate the lack of Braille teachers. Thanks to AI-based speech recognition and gamification, blind students can learn Braille more independently. Education represents a fundamental right. Accessing to an education is key for blind people to find a job and be included in society.

Seeing AI on iOS: an app designed for visually impaired people that can read and describe all types of documents placed under the smartphone camera such as banknotes or mail. It can even recognize images, colors and faces thus providing details on people’s emotions. 

Lookout on Android: the equivalent app of Seeing AI. It has a Quick Scan Mode that can skim through a text.

Google’s Project Guideline: an AI-based solution that enables blind people to run by themselves. With just a harness around their waist, their Android smartphone connected to it and headphones, blind people can run without any external help following a guideline painted on the ground. 

Accessible documents thanks to Microsoft Accessibility Checker or Adobe Accessibility Checker: students and employees with disabilities can still have access to information in order to succeed.

The medical industry also benefits from AI with robot-assisted technology for more precision during surgery or data collection to provide a more accurate diagnosis. But for people with disabilities, this can represent a huge progress in providing a better quality of life. The most striking example is the invention of an exoskeleton powered with AI that enables paralyzed people to use their legs again: they can stand up and walk. A breakthrough that’s not only technological but also medical for people with motor impairments!

These are just a few of the AI technologies used to improve people with disabilities’ lives in various fields as many more solutions are available and developed whether by startups or large corporations such as Google and Microsoft. By having a user-centered approach, artificial intelligence technologies use inclusive design to conceive solutions that best meet the needs of people with disabilities to enhance accessibility. Indeed, AI technology enables them to gain more autonomy whether they’re at home enjoying a movie with subtitles or at work reading an accessible document making the world more accessible and inclusive to them.

Want to know more about apps that people with disabilities use in their everyday lives? Read our articles: 

5 Must-Have Apps for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People in 2020

13 Must-Have Apps for Blind or Visually Impaired People in 2020

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

Posted on March 5, 2021

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A blind man uses the app Evelity to get around in the subway

AI enables people with disabilities to step into a world where their difficulties are understood and taken into account.

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Carole Martinez

Content Manager junior

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7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities  Who hasn’t been uncomfortable dealing with a person with disabilities? We’ve all been afraid to drop a clanger, to be clumsy and to behave badly. It’s normal to feel disconcerted in a new situation when we don’t...

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities  Who hasn’t been uncomfortable dealing with a person with disabilities? We’ve all been afraid to drop a clanger, to be clumsy and to behave badly. It’s normal to feel disconcerted in a new situation when we don’t...

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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.

5 must-have apps for deaf and hard of hearing people in 2020

5 must-have apps for deaf and hard of hearing people in 2020

5 Must-Have Apps for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People in 2020

 

Technological breakthroughs can do miracles. For the 466 million people worldwide having disabling hearing loss (WHO), smartphones have become an essential tool to facilitate social interaction due to speech perception.

Today 95% of deaf and hard of hearing people use a smartphone on a daily basis in developed countries. Plenty of applications contribute to eliminate the main communication-related obstacles that hamper the daily lives of millions of deaf and hard of hearing people around the world.

But to get you started, we have selected for you the 5 best apps of 2020 to help your visitors with hearing impairment get in touch with you, communicate once there and benefit from the services available at your place. This non-exhaustive list is no substitute for potential devices already available at your venue such as hearing loops but rather optional supplements to better accommodate deaf or hard of hearing people in your establishment or during concertations meetings.

Smartphone accessibility settings

 

Before rushing to Google Play or the App Store, it is important to check with the user that the accessibility settings to their smartphone are well configured. Good settings are more effective than an application that will overload the device.

Phone functionalities are often underused due to the lack of communication by operating systems and their constant evolution. They are however simple to activate and highly useful. Here are the ones you need to communicate to your staff if necessary this year.

First, find out about the phone model. Does the person have an iPhone? For iPhone 5 or later users, the phone includes several basic accessibility options such as:

⊗ Volume control

⊗ Live Listen for the hearing-impaired in order to perceive more clearly the interlocutor during a conversation, even if the person is on the other side of the room or the environment is noisy. Audio can be sent to compatible Made for iPhone hearing aids, AirPods or Powerbeats.

⊗ Mono audio for people with hearing loss in one ear. Stereo recordings have separate audio information in each ear. Mono audio lets you hear the same information in both ears.

⊗ The configuration of RTT and TTY protocols to make calls as live text.

⊗ Visible and vibration alerts to avoid missing calls, messages and notifications with the possibility of choosing several vibration options as well as a flashlight.

⊗ Siri by typing the desired question.

 

Shortcuts can be set to simplify access to features using a triple-click. Invite users to make the last update of their device to have access to the latest features.

 

For Android phones, the native functionalities are fewer but are supplemented by downloadable applications. To date, smartphones running Android operating system have the following accessibility features for the deaf and hard of hearing:

⊗ Instant transcription to follow a live conversation in over 70 languages ​​and participate in the conversation quickly thanks to speech synthesis.

⊗ Subtitles with the possibility to choose the preferences of the subtitles to use (language, text and style).

⊗ Instant Captions: This feature is automatic for all multimedia content currently playing on Google Pixel devices only.

⊗ Hearing aid compatibility that lets you pair hearing aids with an Android device to hear more clearly.

⊗ Real-time text during calls (RTT) that works with TTY. As on the iPhone, this option offers the possibility of typing text to communicate live during a phone call.

5 essential apps for deaf and hard of hearing people

 

Once the phone is set up correctly, it is time to focus on installing applications according to usage. We have selected for you 6 free and useful applications to gain accessibility in 2020.

 

  1. Ava 

An instant transcription app that transcribes in live the words of a group of people. Each participant installs the application on its smartphone and using the microphone the conversations are transcribed. This allows people who are deaf or hard of hearing to distinctly follow a conversation within a group without having to lip-read.

Useful for iPhone users who don’t have access to the famous instant transcription native functionality from Google during your consultation meetings.

Available on iOS and Android.

 

  1. RogerVoice 

 

The world famous French application created in 2013 by Olivier Jeannel offers two options.

The first is the live transcription of telephone conversations in more than 100 languages as well as the possibility of answering by voice synthesis. People who are deaf and those who have hearing loss, or someone who has difficulty speaking can use the phone to have a conversation with someone, and receive a typed text of what the other person is saying.

The application goes further by offering to make calls thanks to the help of qualified LSF Interpreters graduates and Graduated LPC coders (in France only). A free version offers up to one hour of call by video interpreter assistance. 

Useful for deaf or hard of hearing people who want to request information about your venue from a distance.

Available on iOS and Android.

 

  1. Sound Amplifier

The Sound Amplifier app for Android is the equivalent of the Live Listen option included in basic iPhone settings. However, it offers more advanced functions in terms of sound volume adjustments and eliminates background noise.

The Sound Amplifier app improves the audio quality of Android devices when using headphones, to provide a more comfortable and natural listening experience. The Sound Amplifier app enhances and amplifies sounds from the real world.

This application can be very useful if your venue has a poor sound environment.

Available on Android. Note that the Sound Amplifier application is part of the native settings of Google Pixel phones.

 

  1. TapSOS

The British app Tap SOS allows deaf and hard of hearing person to connect with emergency services in a nonverbal way. By creating a profile that includes personal medical history emergency responders can give the best care in the event of an emergency. 

When connecting with an emergency service, the app pinpoints the exact location and send all the data stored in the user’s profile in seconds.

The app won the 2018 Digital Health Award as the best effective method for all smartphone users to contact the emergency services in situation of distress.

Available on iOS and Android.

  1. Subtitle Viewer

Using the smartphones’ microphones, the Subtitle Viewer application offers the possibility of viewing subtitles in different languages ​​live on the user’s phone. The subtitles are displayed in real time and the text passage is highlighted.

The application synchronizes with television and movies at the cinema. Other similar applications are available on the market and can accommodate hearing impaired people in your cinemas if the movie screenings are not captioned.

Available on iOS and Android.

 

As you can see, smartphones can be great tools within reach to help people live well with hearing loss. Whether they enhance access to labour market, culture, medical care and public services, today’s technology encourages social bonds between deaf and hard of hearing people and the rest of the population even it does not replace human contact.

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Phone functionalities are often underused due to the lack of communication by operating systems and their constant evolution. They are however simple to activate and highly useful.

writer

Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

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Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

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7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities  Who hasn’t been uncomfortable dealing with a person with disabilities? We’ve all been afraid to drop a clanger, to be clumsy and to behave badly. It’s normal to feel disconcerted in a new situation when we don’t...

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities  Who hasn’t been uncomfortable dealing with a person with disabilities? We’ve all been afraid to drop a clanger, to be clumsy and to behave badly. It’s normal to feel disconcerted in a new situation when we don’t...

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.

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

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

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

 

“Due to an accident on the track, the metro will be stopped for a few moments, thank you for your understanding”, “Line 21 is diverted due to road work, exceptionally the bus will not stop at the next three stations”.

All these audio messages familiar to our ears and broadcast in our stations and in our public transports are essential to ensure comfort and safety of travelers especially in case of emergency or disruption. But the information must be accessible to the public for whom it is intended. The audio format, if it has the advantage of being direct, excludes all users with a hearing loss, ie 466 million people worldwide (source: who.int).

So how to ensure quality information for hearing impaired users when using transportation? Let’s focus on regulations, needs and existing solutions for deaf and hard of hearing public transport users.

Regulation and accessibility of passenger information

In the United States equal access to information of transportation is ensured with the Americans with Disability Act. Under Title II, agencies which operate at a local or state level are required to provide equal access to all services offered by the organization including public transportation. A public entity must ensure that its communications with deaf citizens are as effective as communications with others.

In Canada, The Guide to Accessibility for Intercity Bus Services states that  “Public announcements should be provided in both audio and visual formats, if possible, in all passenger service areas inside terminals.

In the United States and in accordance with the ADA, the National Association of Deaf (NAD) continues to advocate that all transportation systems (airline, train, bus, subway, etc.) make all audible information accessible by providing the same information in a visual format.

Different laws, for different services exists in different countries. The transportation network managers are responsible for their application at local and state level.

Understand the difficulties and needs of deaf people in public transport

In this regulatory context, where the rights of the disabled public are addressed, people who are deaf or hard of hearing still face accessibility problems, particularly when broadcasting audio messages in the event of an emergency or disruption.

This is compounded by other challenges such as trip planning, ticket purchase, orientation and interaction with travelers and staff.

If the deaf population is very heterogeneous, the perception of the surrounding world remains similar from one person to another. From the reduction to the renunciation of any form of mobility, we find mainly the following inconveniences:

  • difficulties in perceiving sound information
  • annoyance due to noise in degraded sound environments
  • loss of balance, fatigue, headaches, tinnitus etc.

When traveling, people with hearing loss need written support that is broadcast simultaneously with the spoken message, to ensure the same level of information and therefore security and service as the rest of the population. Also, to ensure their comfort, priority seating and a quiet environment should be provided wherever possible.

5 solutions to compensate for audio information in transport

The written format remains the most popular format for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, although it does not take into account the needs of people with reading difficulties due to a disability or a lack of knowledge of the language.

A study conducted by UNIVACCESS in 2018 identified universal solutions for public transport for people with disabilities, particularly for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Here are the 5 most frequently identified solutions.

#1. SMS alert

Among the solutions listed are universal solutions such as the SMS alert in case of disruption. This initiative, set up in cities such as Grenoble, Auckland, Geneva and King County, among others, allows users to follow the status of their mode of transport in real time or to receive specific notifications to a route, especially during disruptions.

#2. The light beep

Many cities around the world like Lisbon, Lyon or Singapore have equipped their metro and tramway doors with a flashing light inside and outside. The light accompanies the beep to prevent any crossing of the doors when they close.

#3. Information screens

Information screens are sprouting around the world, like in Manchester or Barcelona. Located on platforms, stations and inside vehicles and wagons, they provide users with useful and reliable written information. Most screens on board inform on the next stop. Some go as far as announcing the places of interest and the shops nearby.

#4. Training of agents in sign language

Some cities like Toulouse have introduce their agents to sign language. Although it is only practiced by a handful of deaf people in the world, its use in stations is a real asset for the users concerned.

#5. Traveler information applications

Different transportation operators thought the world have developed their proper mobile application warning of possible delays, train changes, platform numbers and even on board announcements.

The City of Barcelona for example provides users with an application calculating in real time the number of minutes remaining before the arrival of the next bus. The city of London offers a similar service thanks to a route calculator with simple and adapted choices.

MaaS: an all-in-one tool for tomorrow’s accessibility

What is MaaS? This article tells you everything you need to know!

MaaS-type applications such as Moovit and CityMapper will soon offer an all-in-one solution to promote the mobility of all public and private transport users. From travel planning, to ticket purchase, guidance assistance and real-time information dissemination, MaaS is emerging as the ideal innovation for people with hearing loss.

In conclusion

The dissemination of the right information at the right time is an asset for transport services. For people who do not hear or hear little, lighting, human and technological solutions (screens, SMS and mobile applications) have been tried and tested in many cities around the world. Knowing that after 50 years, one in three has hearing difficulties, compensating for audio information remains a major challenge for transport operators.

All these amenities are universal solutions that can serve the greatest number, disabled or not. Investing in the accessibility of deaf and hard of hearing people, is indeed a guarantee to the access of your network to the greatest number.

You want to make your public transports accessible to disabled people? Check out our article: Making Public Transport Information Accessible to Disabled People

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When traveling, people with hearing loss need written support that is broadcast simultaneously with the spoken message, to ensure the same level of information and therefore security and service as the rest of the population.

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Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

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7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

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7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities  Who hasn’t been uncomfortable dealing with a person with disabilities? We’ve all been afraid to drop a clanger, to be clumsy and to behave badly. It’s normal to feel disconcerted in a new situation when we don’t...

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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.

12 tips to welcome a deaf or hard of hearing person

12 tips to welcome a deaf or hard of hearing person

12 Tips to Welcome a Deaf or Hard of Hearing Person

 

You don’t know sign language and you sometimes welcome deaf or hard of hearing people? Don’t panic!

For fear of doing wrong, we often just keep quiet. However, there are tips to facilitate verbal communication with deaf people. So, in an attempt to reestablish this dialogue this article will provide you with tips to make everyone comfortable. 

The objective is to help hearing people working in the public and private sector by making them aware of simple ways to facilitate communication with deaf and hard-of-hearing people.

What are the right things to do? How to adapt your environment and your body language? Here are 12 tips to help facilitate verbal exchanges daily.

  1. Ensure good lighting and absence of backlighting especially behind the reception desk                                                          good lightening to welcome a deaf person
  2. If possible make dubbing of audio messages available by a visual display with text but also images and pictograms   audio dubbing deaf people
  3. Use amplification systems or a induction loop system to improve hearing quality for people wearing hearing aids  hearing induction loop system deaf people
  4. Provide paper or a smartphone to write or draw if necessary      writing to welcome deaf people    
  5. Provide suitable visual aids: signage, written documents, diagrams, visual guides in American Sign Language etc.     accessible signage
  6. Speak directly to the person even if he or she is accompanied     speak with a death person
  7. No need to scream or raise your voice. It distorts the articulation no need to scream with a deaf person
  8. Stand in front of the deaf or hard-of-hearing person. Stand in the light but not against the light so that he or she can see your lips when speaking how to talk to a deaf person
  9. Express yourself clearly and distinctly by marking downtime (without exaggerating) to see if the person understands      welcome a deaf person
  10. Use a common vocabulary avoiding word play and expressions use easy vocabulary with deaf people
  11. Reformulate if necessary by using synonyms reformulate deaf people
  12. Check the message’s understanding: beware of misunderstandings! avoid misunderstanding with deaf people

Hearing-impaired people have very different profiles. The choice of communication varies from one person to another and their environment. These simple and easy-to-implement tips will allow you to interact with every visitor or client, taking into account hearing impairment in all its diversity.

To understand more about this invisible impairment, the article 8 Clichés About Deaf People will help you toss aside prejudices to welcome deaf people in the best possible way.

Feel free to share these tips around you to make all your staff aware of good communicative attitudes.

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No need to scream or raise your voice. It distorts the articulation

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Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

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7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities  Who hasn’t been uncomfortable dealing with a person with disabilities? We’ve all been afraid to drop a clanger, to be clumsy and to behave badly. It’s normal to feel disconcerted in a new situation when we don’t...

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities  Who hasn’t been uncomfortable dealing with a person with disabilities? We’ve all been afraid to drop a clanger, to be clumsy and to behave badly. It’s normal to feel disconcerted in a new situation when we don’t...

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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.

8 Clichés About Deaf People

8 Clichés About Deaf People

8 Clichés About Deaf People

 

Deaf people have long been marginalized. Sign language was even banned for decades. Today, deaf people want to live an ordinary life within society. Who are they? What are their needs and how can they feel welcomed within public places? Let’s toss aside our prejudices and see what we can all do in our own way!

As a bonus, you might discover some small but surprising facts.

 

1. Deaf people? There are none in my town

That’s what you think, for good reason. Deafness is an invisible disability, like 80% of all other disabilities. According to the WHO, hearing loss afflicts over 5% of the world’s population and one-third of people over 65. It generally occurs due to age or prolonged exposure to noise.

2. The deaf hear nothing

There is actually a small minority among deaf people who cannot hear anything.

A hearing impairment extends from a simple difficulty in understanding a conversation between several people to a complete loss of hearing. Less than 5% of people with a hearing impairment are completely deaf.

Even a person with profound deafness can perceive certain sounds. However, that does not mean that such sounds are of any use to them.

3. Deaf people need sign language to communicate

Sign language is certainly essential for those who use it. It is their first language and communicating with them through it is the best way to ensure they understand the message. But only approximately 5% of deaf people rely on sign language.

To facilitate the access and use of services by the deaf and hard of hearing, the following should be ensured first and foremost:

⊗ Good lighting;

⊗ The absence of light effects causing silhouettes, especially at the reception desk;

⊗ The addition of a visual display with text, images and icons to accompany PA announcements;

⊗ Amplifier systems or hearing induction loops;

⊗ The availability of writing or drawing materials;

⊗ Trained staff.

4. You can shout to be heard

This is certainly the last thing that you should do.

A deaf person is deaf. Yelling is pointless, their hearing will not suddenly be restored!

Even if they can perceive some sounds or have a hearing aid, shouting deforms the mouth and makes lip reading more difficult. Just make the effort to speak clearly, not too quickly and enunciate without exaggeration.

5. You can just write to communicate with a deaf person

This often makes things easier but it is far from being an all-purpose solution.

Obviously, writing is the best solution for those who lost their hearing after they learned to read. If your job involves greeting the public, always have a pen and paper handy.

However, illiteracy is very common among deaf people. While statistics show that things are changing for the better in terms of teaching methods for the deaf, learning to read remains a long and difficult process for those who cannot hear because they are unable to associate letters with their sounds. So, writing is not always the preferred method of communication for the deaf.

6. Deaf people can read lips

Reading lips is indeed one of the main compensations derived from the loss of hearing. But like writing, it is not solution that applies to all deaf people. It is once again a question of learning. In any case, only a part of the message is received. Try adding explicit gestures to your words and reformulate the wording if necessary.

Lip reading requires the speaker to have their face unobstructed, and well-lit with no shadows. Chewing gum or even having a mustache can make reading lips more difficult. Lipstick helps though. But not everyone can pull off makeup.

7. The deaf are also mute

This may be the case but it is certainly not a given.

Deafness does not affect the vocal cords. If some deaf people don’t speak, it might be because they never learned or they choose not to speak for fear of being judged or misunderstood.

Imagine having to repeat something you did not hear. This is the problem faced by deaf children. And the reason learning to speak is far more difficult for them and requires prolonged sessions with a speech therapist. Yet, it is possible!

Many deaf people can speak (especially young people and those who lost their hearing after having learned how to speak) and even very clearly.

8. Sign language is an international language

No, it isn’t. Every country has their own sign language.

Sign language is a true language with its own vocabulary, grammar and syntax. If deaf people have an advantage over the hearing, it is that they can communicate with someone from another country a lot quicker. There are fewer differences between two sign languages than there are between two spoken languages.

Incidentally, two countries with the same spoken language, the United Kingdom and the United States, do not share the same sign language.

If you like this article, read this one: 8 Clichés About Blind People

There are many clichés about the deaf and those mentioned here are just a sample. You will find other articles about hearing impairment and other disabilities in our webzine.

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A deaf person is deaf. Yelling is pointless, their hearing will not suddenly be restored!

writer

Lise Wagner

Lise Wagner

Accessibility Expert

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7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities  Who hasn’t been uncomfortable dealing with a person with disabilities? We’ve all been afraid to drop a clanger, to be clumsy and to behave badly. It’s normal to feel disconcerted in a new situation when we don’t...

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities

7 Tips to Welcome a Person with Disabilities  Who hasn’t been uncomfortable dealing with a person with disabilities? We’ve all been afraid to drop a clanger, to be clumsy and to behave badly. It’s normal to feel disconcerted in a new situation when we don’t...

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.