Public Transport: Accessibility Solutions, Also for the Intellectual Disability!

Public Transport: Accessibility Solutions, Also for the Intellectual Disability!

Public Transport: Accessibility Solutions, Also for the Intellectual Disability!

 

153 million people live with an intellectual disability in the World. How do they get around the city and take public transportation independently? What are the facilities, accessibility equipment or human solutions that facilitate their mobility? The accessibility regulation is not very explicit on the subject. But many public transport networks have already experimented and implemented measures that have positive effects. Here is an overview!

Intellectual Disability: Specific Needs for Mobility

 

Intellectual disability, also known as general learning disability or mental retardation, is characterized by significantly impaired intellectual and adaptive functioning. Often confused with the mental illness and associated with the cognitive disability, the intellectual disability nevertheless has its specificities.

People with intellectual disabilities have, to a greater or lesser extent depending on the case:

⊗ difficulties of understanding and conceptualization,

⊗ reduced analytical capacity,

⊗ increased emotions and sensitivity to stress,

⊗ difficulties in getting in touch and being understood,

⊗ a reduced ability to be aware of space and time,

⊗ a lack of ability to cope with unforeseen circumstances,

⊗ difficulty concentrating and remembering information,

⊗ difficulties to sort out too much information,

⊗ complicated access to writing, especially when the information is long or contains abbreviations or acronyms…

For the use of public transport, these difficulties have concrete consequences at each stage of the journey: reading maps, understanding schedules, wayfinding, remembering and following directions, identifying the correct bus stop or subway station, coping with service disruptions, delays and emergencies, requesting information from appropriate sources…

 

Tools Adapted to the Intellectual Disability to Use Public Transport

Many transport authorities have already put in place solutions to facilitate access for people with intellectual disabilities to public transport. Beyond the 153 million people with intellectual disabilities identified in the World, it is many other travelers who benefit: the elderly, children, people with mental or cognitive disabilities and potentially anyone stressed or distracted.

 

Help by Planning a Trip

Planning a trip is essential to feel reassured and anticipate difficulties. Some people with intellectual disabilities need to be trained to use public transport.

In New York City, the MTA offers free travel training to all travelers with disabilities. They learn to use the bus and subway independently. To remember the skills obtained, they can also refer to the MTA Guide to Accessible Transit.

In San Francisco, travelers with intellectual disabilities can also get an individualized travel training with a qualified travel trainer. This training allow them to improve their travel skills and gain more experience using the Muni system.

This kind of trainings also exist in Paris with “Mobility Workshops”. The RATP transit system has published a guide in language easy to read and understand.

Some people with an intellectual disability are quite able to use a map as long as it is simplified. Many cities have maps that include photos of the main places. This preview has a reassuring effect and facilitates the recognition of its destination when reaching it. Transport for London offers a large collection of maps in different forms: color, black and white, large print, audio, etc.

 

Multichannel and Multisensory Signage

 

Dissemination of information via several channels and in different sensory modalities (visual, sound, tactile) can reach a wider audience and ensures a better understanding of the message in all circumstances.

More and more transit systems are providing traveler information in real time both in visual form (lighted signs) and sound. Most of the World’s largest cities have passenger information systems with both visual and vocal announcements. This is very helpful for most fragile travelers.

Many French cities have installed audio signage for blind and visually impaired people. The speakers are activated on demand with a remote control or smartphone to avoid noise pollution on roads. They broadcast a fully customizable message wich announces the name of the location and guiding information. Specialized associations on intellectual disability suggest extending the use of these audio beacons to the population they represent. These devices are gradually installed to locate the entrances of metro stations in Paris.

The use of symbols or pictograms also facilitates identification and helps memorize information. Mexico City’s Metro system has icons to identify each station. Instead of a name, these graphic elements make wayfinding easier for passengers with intellectual disabilities or those who cannot read.

Still underdeveloped in the urban space, pavement marking has a strong potential for wayfinding of all the public. In Liverpool, the locations of the main bus stops are indicated by footprints incorporating the bus number and differentiated by a color code.

 

Training Frontline Staff and Drivers on Disability Awareness

 

The behavior of drivers and transport employees can, as appropriate, improve or aggravate the stress or panic situations of travelers with intellectual disabilities. This is one of the reasons why training for the reception of disabled people and accessibility must be provided to all personnel in contact with the public.

This approach is already in place on many public transport networks, as in London, Paris, San Francisco or Toronto.

 

Implementation of Easy-to-Use Equipment

 

The complexity of automated ticketing or security gates can compromise access to transport for people with intellectual disabilities.

The design of this equipment must therefore take into account the specific needs of these users:

⊗ Reduction of the number of manipulations,

⊗ Information easy to understand,

⊗ Tolerance to slowness, etc.

Digital Solutions Adapted to Intellectual Disability

 

People with intellectual disabilities also benefit from advances in information and communication technologies. The Disability Innovation Institute in Sydney (Australia) conducts interdisciplinary research on the use of mobile technology by people with intellectual disabilities, and its capacity to improve their social inclusion. Apps on tablets and smartphones can help them in their daily lives to do their shopping, count the currency, organize their schedule, and of course, travel on public transport. To design accessible applications, it is necessary to take into account the following points:

⊗ Easy to read and understand text: use simple words, not jargon (e.g. travel document = ticket),

⊗ Photos of places: preview of strategic points and places of destination. The fact of being able to visualize one’s journey has indeed reassuring for a person with intellectual disability. A 360 ° view is a real plus.

⊗ Voice input: Users must be able to query with their own words.

⊗ Several possible paths: What is logical for some is not necessarily for others, for example for people with autism. An application accessible to all must allow access to the same information by several methods.

⊗ Suggestions when typing: Whether the query is captured by voice or text, the application should provide suggestions for failure (e.g., “Do you mean…”).

⊗ Priority to the most common queries: These should appear as close as possible to the beginning of the home screen to allow quick access to information.

⊗ E-mail or SMS Alerts: To help users better manage unexpected events and disruptions, it is essential that the application offers an e-mail or SMS alert system on predefined routes. The application should also propose alternative routes.

⊗ Personal preferences: Users must be able to record their own parameters as their preferred mode of transport (surface transport for a claustrophobic person), their walking speed (calculation of the journey time), map display mode (change map orientation, zoom control), etc.

 

As you can see, the needs of people with intellectual disabilities allow the development of solutions that benefit all public transport users. Anyone who occasionally encounters difficulties in comprehension, memory, strength or reactivity, because of their age, illness, stress, fatigue or a simple moment of distraction . Mobility professionals with disabilities are able to assist you in implementing these solutions.

 

If you like this article you might also like this one: 8 Clichés About Intellectual Disability

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The needs of people with intellectual disabilities allow the development of solutions that benefit all public transport users. Anyone who occasionally encounters difficulties in comprehension, memory, strength or reactivity, because of their age, illness, stress, fatigue or a simple moment of distraction.

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Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

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The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal AccessibilityWith 1.36 million passengers per day, the Montreal metro is the first network in Canada and the third in North America behind New York City and Mexico City. The network, which was inaugurated on October 14, 1966...

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7 Clichés About Psychiatric Disability

7 Clichés About Psychiatric Disability

7 Clichés About Psychiatric Disability

 

Psychiatric disability, or mental illness, has long been associated with insanity. It very often (and wrongly) prompts an irrational fear in us. Like all other disabilities, psychiatric disability has many forms and a person can lead an active life with appropriate support.

1. Psychiatric disability does not affect me

Unfortunately, no family is safe from mental health issues, whether depression, anxiety, addiction, schizophrenia, anorexia or other. The WHO estimates that these disorders affect one in four people and by 2020, mental illness will be the most common disability in the world.

2. Intellectual disability and psychiatric disability are the same thing

Even though the results of these two types of disabilities sometimes resemble each other, it is important to distinguish between them.
Intellectual disability is the result of a cognitive impairment that affects a person’s ability to learn, think and conceptualize. Psychiatric disability is the result of disabling psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, major depression, bi-polar disorder, anxiety disorders and personality disorders. It is also often called “mental illness” but this can increase confusion between the two disabilities. In any case, psychiatric disability does not affect a person’s intellect. It simply makes it more difficult for them to use their intellectual abilities in certain circumstances or in a particular emotional state.

3. People who live with a psychiatric disability are unable to work

One of the main difficulties facing people affected by a psychiatric disability is keeping their job. The unemployment rate among people recognized as disabled workers is twice that of the general population. Nevertheless, with personalized support (rearrangement of work schedule and environment), they are more than capable of working and contributing their skills. A job can even act as an effective way of preventing their disorder from worsening.

4. A mental illness is for life, it cannot be cured

 Studies show that the majority of people with mental health problems improve or even recover completely. They can then participate fully once again in family life, society and work, even if some symptoms linger on.

5. The only way to treat a person with a psychiatric disability is to commit them or medicate them

The vast majority of psychiatric patients are treated as outpatients and are never hospitalized. Psychotherapy, physiotherapy, social rehabilitation courses and support groups are just some of today’s alternatives to medication and hospitalization.

6. Schizophrenics are violent and dangerous. They often kill people

The statistics speak for themselves: less than 1% of crimes are committed by people suffering a serious mental illness. There is no connection between a psychiatric disorder and the committing of a crime.

7. There are no effective measures for promoting accessibility among people who have a psychiatric disability

Since anxiety is one of the most common symptoms of a psychiatric disability, anything that helps create a reassuring atmosphere is welcome. We can also add:

⊗ Hiring patient, respectful staff who are trained in receiving people with disabilities;

⊗ Posting simplified, illustrated signs with easy-to-understand words, colors, symbols and icons;

⊗ Using visually different carpets or floor coverings, or tactile strips to point out the main pathways;

⊗ Comforting background sound with noise-dampening coverings.

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

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Less than 1% of crimes are committed by people suffering a serious mental illness. There is no connection between a psychiatric disorder and the committing of a crime.

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Lise Wagner

Lise Wagner

Accessibility Expert

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The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal AccessibilityWith 1.36 million passengers per day, the Montreal metro is the first network in Canada and the third in North America behind New York City and Mexico City. The network, which was inaugurated on October 14, 1966...

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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 Intellectual Disability

8 Clichés About Intellectual Disability

8 Clichés About Intellectual Disability

 

There is poor awareness about intellectual disability (previously called mental retardation), even though it affects 1% of all children born. Find out more about this disability, its causes, the daily life of those living with it and how accessibility can be improved.

1. Intellectual disability and psychiatric disability are the same thing.

False. Even though the results of these two types of disabilities sometimes resemble each other, it is important to distinguish between them.

Intellectual disability is the result of a cognitive impairment that affects a person’s ability to learn, think and conceptualize. Psychiatric disability is the result of disabling psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, major depression, bi-polar disorder, anxiety disorders and personality disorders. It is also often called “mental illness” but this can increase confusion between the two disabilities. In any case, psychiatric disability does not affect a person’s intellect. It simply makes it more difficult for them to use their intellectual abilities in certain circumstances or in a particular emotional state.

2. Intellectual disability always occurs at birth.

This is almost true.

The majority of intellectual disabilities originate before, during or a little after birth. In about 8% of cases, this type of disability appears later on following an accident, illness or trauma.

3. Down syndrome is the primary cause of intellectual disability.

In truth, the cause of 30% of intellectual disability cases is unknown. Among the known causes, the most common are genetic conditions, brain malformations, metabolism disorders, problems during pregnancy or during birth, and infectious diseases.

4. People with an intellectual disability are unaware that they’re different.

Even if it may reassure us to believe that, it’s just not true. They go through the same suffering as anyone else when teased, insulted or rejected. Perhaps even more so because they are often highly sensitive.

5. They have to live in an institution.

Everyone living with an intellectual disability is different. They have their own abilities and difficulties. While some need constant care, even for the simplest everyday act, others are perfectly capable of living on their own in independent housing.

6. They must always have someone assisting them.

Once again, this is a question of their level of independence. Some with intellectual disability are perfectly capable of understanding and expressing themselves. It may be that they require more time and concentration. This is why you will help them a lot by showing that you are listening, patient and not preoccupied with something else. To help them orient themselves, illustrated signs with colors, symbols and icons can be very useful for them.

7. They cannot work.

The truth is that they are rarely given the opportunity. The unemployment rate among people recognized as disabled workers is twice that of the general population. However, there is accessibility to numerous jobs especially in sheltered workshops, also known as work centers.

8. There are no effective measures to increase accessibility for those living with intellectual disability.

The forms of intellectual disability are so varied that it is difficult to state the specific needs of people living with this type of disability. Below is a list of some useful measures that can facilitate their integration.

⊗ Posting simplified, illustrated signs with easy-to-understand words, colors, symbols and icons;

⊗ Providing information that has been written in simple language and provided in several formats (visual, audio, etc.);

⊗ Using visually different carpets or floor coverings, or tactile strips to point out the main pathways.

Finally, the training of all staff members, who deal with the public, in welcoming a person with a disability is one specific way to really help in their integration.

Did you like this article? Then read this one as well: 8 Clichés About Blind People

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The truth is that they are rarely given the opportunity. The unemployment rate among people recognized as disabled workers is twice that of the general population.

writer

Lise Wagner

Lise Wagner

Accessibility Expert

stay updated

Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

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The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal AccessibilityWith 1.36 million passengers per day, the Montreal metro is the first network in Canada and the third in North America behind New York City and Mexico City. The network, which was inaugurated on October 14, 1966...

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.

Disabled People in the World in 2021: Facts and Figures

Disabled People in the World in 2021: Facts and Figures

Disabled People in the World in 2021: Facts and Figures

 

There are currently more than 1 billion disabled people in the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) a disabled person is anyone who has “a problem in body function or structure, an activity limitation, has a difficulty in executing a task or action; with a participation restriction”.

What are the different types of disabilities? How many people are affected? Which populations are most at risk? What impact has COVID-19 had on people with disabilities? Let’s take stock of the facts and figures around the world. 

How many people have disabilities in the world?

You may not see disabled people in your everyday life, and yet the WHO has identified over 1 billion disabled people, 20% of whom live with great functional difficulties in their day-to-day lives. 

A few outstanding figures of disability around the world (according to the WHO’s 2011 report):

⊗ 253 million people are affected by some form of blindness and visual impairment. This represents 3.2% of the world’s population. That’s twice Mexico’s population*!

⊗ 466 million people have a disabling deafness and hearing loss. This represents 6% of the world’s population, that is to say all of the inhabitants of the European Union!

⊗ About 200 million people have an intellectual disability (IQ below 75). This represents 2.6% of the world’s population. It covers the number of inhabitants in Brazil!

⊗ 75 million people need a wheelchair on a daily basis. This represents 1% of the world’s population. That’s twice Canada’s population!

These figures may remain an evolutionary average, but one thing is certain: the number of people affected by any form of disability represents a significant part of the world population, from children to adults alike. It is also important to underline the fact that some people may have multiple disabilities. This explains why the total number of people with disabilities in the world isn’t equal to the sum of people with disabilities per disability type. Indeed, the same person can be both deaf and blind.

What does an impairment mean exactly?

Visual impairment: this concerns far-sightedness and near-sightedness so there are two types of visual impairment to distinguish between.

Hearing impairment: you can be affected by hearing loss as soon as you lose 20 decibels. It may affect one or both of your ears. Depending on their hearing loss, hearing impaired people can have hearing aids, cochlear implants, subtitles. When we refer to deaf people, this means they can’t hear anymore or barely.

Intellectual disability: the WHO defines it as “a significantly reduced ability to understand new or complex information and to learn and apply new skills (impaired intelligence)”.

Physical disability: this includes people with a physical impairment or reduced mobility. Thus, their mobility capacity may be limited in their upper and/or lower body. 

Explanation of global disability figures

More and more people are affected by disability every year. It is often the most vulnerable people who are most at risk. The WHO says that “the number of people with disabilities is increasing because of the aging of the population and the increase of chronic diseases”.

Key facts:

⊗ In 2017, people over 60 years old represented 962 million people, which was twice as many as in 1980;

⊗ 1 in 2 disabled person cannot afford treatment;

⊗ People with disabilities have a more fragile general health;

⊗ Disability increases dependency and limits participation in society;

⊗ The poverty rate is higher for people with disabilities.

These gaps are due to barriers to accessing health, education, transportation, information and work services – which many of us are taking for granted. 

A definition of invisible disability 

The concept of invisible disability takes its name from the forms of disability that are not apparent but that impact the quality of life. Among these are schizophrenia or deafness for example.

Far from clichés representing a disabled person in a wheelchair on the usual signage all over the world, the field of disability includes a vast range of disorders that are sensory, cognitive, psychological or chronic.

In the United States, about 10% of Americans have a medical condition which could be considered an invisible disability.

People with disabilities and COVID-19

2020 was truly an exhausting year due to COVID-19’s propagation all over the world. We still struggle today to get rid of it even if the incoming of several vaccines represents a beacon of hope for us all.

We aren’t all equals dealing with disease and COVID-19 doesn’t make an exception! But it’s even more striking for people with disabilities who have had to deal with challenging issues due to their disabilities! Let’s see what consequences coronavirus has had on them.

Being visually impaired and being used to dealing with your environment through touch, what can you do when the world shifts and that you cannot touch anything anymore? Blind or visually impaired people suddenly lost all of their bearings. Plus they couldn’t always rely on the help of others. A lot of people were paranoid and scared for fear they might get infected by the virus if they guided a blind person offering their arm.

For deaf or hearing impaired people, communication with others could already be challenging before dealing with everybody wearing masks. Then they couldn’t lip read or decipher people’s emotions anymore. In order to leave no one behind, some people stepped up and created an inclusive mask to help hearing impaired people communicate and understand others. An inclusive world needs to include all categories of people. The inclusive mask is a perfect example of what an inclusive society should look like despite the fact that it’s not widely used yet. 

We all had to adapt after losing our bearings but it was more difficult for some than for others. Some people with an intellectual disability struggled to understand why the world suddenly stopped and everything turned upside down. For them, sticking to a routine was extremely important, something COVID-19 played havoc with, causing a severe amount of stress. 

A lot of public places implemented a specific system to let people in and out in order to avoid any contamination risk. For people with a physical disability, this could mean having to use a longer path or having to deal with narrower halls for wheelchair users. These situations can be both tiring and frustrating.

Generally speaking, a lot of people living in retirement homes or specialized medical centers were suddenly cut off from the outside world and their loved ones… Same as everybody, it had an impact, more or less important, on individuals’ mental well-being whether they have disabilities or not. Plus, the contamination risk remained present through the nursing staff. A continual and heavy stress for the families.

COVID-19 has increased inequalities in society regarding health. The United States and the European Union chose to first prioritize vaccination for the elderly, healthcare workers and people with serious health conditions. Just like a pack of wolves places its most fragile members ahead and its strongest behind to make sure that everybody gets through together. That’s the definition of solidarity! 

In conclusion

As we can see, disability comes in many different forms and is progressing all over the world. While some disabilities are temporary, others, on the other hand, affect the everyday actions of people in the long term.

Getting to know more about disabled people means getting to know more about 1 billion world citizens who are longing for one thing: a more accessible world!

 

*For our demonstration, we took the liberty to give approximate numbers concerning the population of the mentioned countries.

Here are the correct numbers of inhabitants in 2021 for each of them:

⊗ Mexico: 130 262 000 inhabitants

⊗ European Union: around 450 million inhabitants

⊗ Brazil: 213 993 000 inhabitants

⊗ Canada: 38 068 000 inhabitants

Updated on May 28th 2021

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According to the World Health Organization (WHO) a disabled person is anyone who has “a problem in body function or structure, an activity limitation, has a difficulty in executing a task or action; with a participation restriction”.

writer

Lise Wagner

Lise Wagner

Accessibility Expert

stay updated

Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

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The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal Accessibility

The Montreal Metro on the Way to Universal AccessibilityWith 1.36 million passengers per day, the Montreal metro is the first network in Canada and the third in North America behind New York City and Mexico City. The network, which was inaugurated on October 14, 1966...

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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.