Creating an Accessible and Barrier-Free Society through Inclusive Design: a Constant Renewal

Creating an Accessible and Barrier-Free Society through Inclusive Design: a Constant Renewal

Creating an Accessible and Barrier-Free Society through Inclusive Design: a Constant Renewal

 

Inclusive design has a major role in enhancing accessibility. Though both concepts don’t exactly encompass the same ideas, they are undeniably linked together because of their complementarity. Accessibility consists in removing the present obstacles whereas inclusive design consists in creating solutions that from the beginning are perfectly tailored to the needs of several profiles of people: a person with reduced mobility for whom it’ll be easier to use an elevator in a shopping mall or a person with a visual impairment who needs a contrasted signage in a subway station for their getting around in complete autonomy for example.

Therefore accessibility can be achieved through an inclusive design with a human-centered approach. Putting people first and focusing on their needs permits to respond adequately and to favor their inclusion in society.

What’s better than a society which caters to the needs of all its citizens? Inclusive design offers a wide range of possibilities for cities to help them create an accessible and barrier-free society in several areas whether it concerns the services they provide such as public transportation but also in their architecture with buildings and parks. In addition, culture happens to be one of the first fields to have considered inclusive design and is showing the way to others. 

The sky’s the limit as the following examples of accessibility achieved through inclusive design will demonstrate!

 

Inclusive design, universal design and accessibility: an inevitable triptych 

In order to perfectly comprehend what inclusive design embraces, let’s focus at first on its definition and those of universal design and accessibility since the three are often intertwined together.

⊗ Inclusive design: making a product or service easily accessible to several categories of users. It strongly focuses on the user experience to make sure the needs of the targeted categories are met and consequently acknowledges the diversity of the population. Meaning that for different groups of users, inclusive design explores different solutions. It also takes into account different cultures so that solutions can also apply to foreign tourists who don’t speak the language of the country they’re visiting. 

⊗ Universal design or Design for all: it consists in providing one solution to tailor the needs of everybody. Universal design thus focuses on the entire population rather than just a few groups of people to make accessible products. But usually, universal design only accomplishes to meet the needs of the majority so there are still a few people whose needs aren’t answered. 

⊗ Accessibility: removing obstacles and adapting solutions or equipment so that users with disabilities can have the same experience as any user such as screen readers for people with a visual impairment. Accessibility is all about accommodations. 

As you can see, there are slight differences to know concerning these concepts. However, when dealing with inclusive design, it’s obvious that it has to be linked with accessibility. One goes with the other. After all, they share a common goal even though their methods and solutions differ: enabling people with disabilities to be included in society and to enjoy the same services as anybody. 

Consequently, a simple thing like a wide building entrance constitutes a perfect combination of inclusive design and accessibility! It can prove to be extremely useful for wheelchair users and is the first step to make a place accessible for them. 

This type of equipment can be found in different places such as city halls, universities and colleges or even airports. For shopping malls for example, in addition to a wide entrance with automatic doors, you can find elevators, escalators and ramps so that people with reduced mobility can easily get around and do their shopping. Although elevators may seem to be the obvious choice for easy access for people with reduced mobility, stairs are still relevant since they can help the elderly exercise without them realizing it. Plus people with a visual impairment don’t have to worry about finding the right button on the elevator. They all can simply use accessible stairs equipped with continuous handrails and visual contrasting non-slip stair nosings: an easy equipment to implement!

Inclusive design and accessibility truly are complementary since they serve the same purpose. 

 

Inclusive design with a human-centered approach

People with disabilities are at the heart of inclusive design since it focuses on meeting their needs in the best possible way. Thinking of installing a wide building entrance for wheelchair users is just the beginning for architects and designers. To make a place accessible, it needs to be well thought out with the different profiles in mind. And for that, it means working closely with groups of people with disabilities.

Their participation and involvement is key to make sure architects, city planners, engineers create the perfect environment for their needs. Human-centered design, used in ISO standards, consists at first in researching what the problem is, analyzing the data and then in conceptualizing it in order to implement the appropriate solution. Various stages take place:

⊗ Observing the user groups;

⊗ Analyzing the research;

⊗ Communicating with the user groups on the issue;

⊗ Offering a solution or a prototype;

⊗ Feedback from the groups;

⊗ Fixing the potential problems of the solution raised by the user groups until it’s perfected. Thus, there can be several back-and-forths between the groups and the designers.

Throughout this whole process of analyzing the issue of user groups, empathy remains key. After all, architects, city planners and engineers design for humans. They need to put themselves in the shoes of those who are usually unseen and unheard: people with disabilities. 

The Institute of Human Centered Design (IHCD) in Boston focuses on both inclusive and universal design in order to foster projects that meet the needs of a wide range of people comprising the elderly who may have difficulties to get around or to use their hands due to arthritis, people with learning and attention disabilities, people on the autistic spectrum or any profile of disabilities. Indeed, the IHCD provides their expertise in accessibility from the start of a design project (cities, parks, public transit systems) to ensure all categories of people can have access to a barrier-free society applying a philosophy where people are listened to and valued. People with disabilities as other types of profiles can thus regain some self-esteem. They properly feel they’re part of society. 

Moreover, what’s useful for one group can also be for another one. For example, using simple and clear pictograms to give basic information such as the location of the elevators or the bathroom to people with a cognitive impairment is also efficient for the elderly or children. After all, the goal is to convene universal information through a signage system. 

The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London represents a huge success in terms of inclusive design with a human-centered approach. Created specially for the Olympic and Paralympic Games of 2012, it had the ambition to be home to “the most accessible Games ever” by the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC). It definitely was the case at the time and today it’s still being put to use to welcome the general public. The LLDC issued last year its updated inclusive design standards describing the implementations that took place within the Park, its venues and its surrounding areas. From accessible toilets for wheelchair users to guide paths for the orientation of people with a visual impairment, shared spaces that are easy to navigate and comfort zones for pedestrians but also facilities for assistance dogs, the Park provides a safe and attractive place for a wide range of people of all ages. A sense of community and belonging is thus reinforced. Let’s just hope that the Park inspires others to implement the same inclusive design standards!

On a larger scale, London keeps considering inclusive design as the city is planning to make the Square Mile, the financial district, an accessible environment for its citizens with disabilities and its elderly. London is set on removing all the barriers to create an inclusive society! As we’ve previously explained in our article Disability as an Innovation Driver for the Smart City, accessibility and inclusion represent a challenge to face for all cities that want to be able to claim they’re Smart Cities.  

Innovating while focusing on a human-centered approach can result in surprising creations. The whole world has had to adapt to the ongoing pandemic and wearing masks happens to be essential for all of us to protect ourselves and others. However, this has isolated a lot of people including deaf and hard of hearing people who have been struggling to communicate with others. Seeing that their conversation partner has to wear a mask to cover their face, deaf or hard of hearing people can’t read on their lips anymore or see their facial expressions to help them understand them and the situation. Thankfully, companies or just regular citizens stood up to make transparent masks. A simple inclusive solution that enables deaf people to lip-read and communicate!

Another example of innovation that meets the needs of groups of people is the creation of sensory rooms: a dedicated space for people with cognitive disabilities, autism or even dementia. They can find there a quiet and safe environment away from any potential stressful situations. Once again, the city of London is a fine example of inclusion with the sensory room at the Heathrow airport. Researchers established a guideline showing the therapeutic benefits of a sensory room on patients with dementia with the use of gentle stimulation through senses. Sensory rooms can also provide a sound-protected environment for people on the autistic spectrum who can be sensitive to noise and need a calm place to relax. This happens to be the case at the one in the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis as previously seen in our article The Guidelines for Stadium Accessibility: Offering People with Disabilities a Good Experience. Designing a room with low lighting, different types of spaces to provide calm for people or even fun with the use of soft toys demands a perfect analysis of the categories of people that are to be welcomed there. 

Focusing on the needs of several groups of people is a huge part of inclusive design. It helps improve solutions to create a barrier-free environment for all whatever this environment may be, that’s the beauty of inclusive design!

 

Resolving the challenge of mobility: an inclusive society one foot at a time 

Mobility represents an important challenge to face for people with disabilities in their everyday lives. In our article How Do the Blind Safely Cross the Road?, we had already focused on the importance of the mobility of people with a visual impairment. 

Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) remain the best solution for them to safely cross the road. However, COVID-19 has highlighted their limitations: the use of the pushbutton in the United States and in other countries can endanger the lives of its blind citizens. Indeed, they need to touch the pushbutton to activate the APS and then cross the street but unfortunately it has been proven that the virus could also be found on surfaces making it difficult and unsafe for blind or visually impaired people to easily get around. Our article How Can Accessible Pedestrian Signals Become COVID-19 Responsive? had greatly focused on this issue and had introduced the connected device aBeacon as an adequate solution.  

This innovative APS can be activated on demand with a remote control or with a smartphone which means that the user doesn’t have to touch the pole. The device aBeacon, designed by Okeenea, can easily be installed on traffic lights to provide audible information creating a sound corridor to guide the user. A perfect example of inclusive design at the service of  groups of people! An inclusive society leaves no one behind! 

And French company Okeenea keeps innovating to make sure people with a visual impairment can locate a building or a subway entrance thanks to its audio beacons NAVIGUEO+ HIFI. When activated, their message enables people to find their way to the exact location of the point of interest. Same as aBeacon, these audio beacons also are on demand activated with a remote control or a smartphone so that the users have the same devices for two different solutions. Two well thought solutions focusing on the needs of their users to make their lives easier!

Of course, finding a building entrance is the first step but accessibility within is also important. We’ve seen earlier that buildings like shopping malls can have different types of equipment but usually, people with disabilities need to apprehend their trips beforehand and prepare them as best as they can so that to avoid any possible difficulties. What can be done to enable them to get around spontaneously and explore a new venue? There’s a simple yet original solution with Evelity: an indoor wayfinding app specifically designed for people with disabilities. More and more apps are created for people with physical disabilities, blind or visually impaired people or deaf or hard of hearing people…, to help them in their everyday lives. 

Evelity truly is an ingenious app that can help people with a visual impairment to find their bearings thanks to audio instructions with VoiceOver or TalkBack or people with a physical impairment with optimized routes. It’s up to the user to set up the app according to their profile. Evelity can guide users at any sorts of locations: shopping malls, universities and colleges, hospitals, transport networks such as subways and train stations, offices, museums and much more. 

In order to have a solution that was perfectly tailored to the needs of its different users, Evelity’s design team worked closely with test groups since its beginning according to the stages previously explained. It has always been one of the major principles of the team as service designer Marie-Charlotte Moret explained in her interview: Adopting a Design Approach to Put People at the Heart of New Mobility Services. Then empathy represents an important value when it comes to designing a solution for the mobility of people with disabilities. 

 

The undeniable commitment of the cultural world for the development of inclusive design

If there’s one field that has always questioned the issue of accessibility and the comfort of its visitors it’s the cultural world. How can blind or visually impaired visitors apprehend the paintings in a museum? Can visitors with wheelchairs have easy access to the galleries?

Tactile Studio, an agency specializing in inclusive design for the promotion of the arts to everyone, creates adapted and innovative solutions that both serve the aesthetics of the place and the needs of its visitors. World famous cultural institutions employ this agency to ensure all types of visitors can enjoy culture and arts such as the Orsay Museum in Paris that set up a tactile and multi-sensory exploration of L’Atelier du peintre, a painting by Gustave Courbet. Tactile Studio created a special design of the painting so that visitors with a visual impairment could touch the highlighted layers of the painting. They also had an audio description of the painting so that emotions could be convened through different canals and senses. A complete immersion to easily understand and appreciate an artwork!

Relief and tactile experience are not the only solutions put in place by the design agency. Indeed, technology can be used to help visitors exploit paintings or photographs. The Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum opted for a digital solution for its “Photographs: An Early Album Of The World 1842-1896” exhibition to explain the relevance of these photographs on both technical and cultural aspects. Tactile Studio created interactive animations, graphical interfaces and a narration for digital non-tactile supports. A fun way to approach art!

The Guggenheim in New York represents a very good example of accessibility through inclusive design since it addresses different profiles thanks to adapted solutions. Even its cylindrical building proves to be easily accessible: visitors start their trip at the top and gradually go down with its slightly tilted rotunda ramp to access the exhibitions. A simple way for visitors with wheelchairs to get around in the museum if they don’t want to use the elevators. 

However, the Guggenheim and its rotunda provide more solutions that meet the needs of different profiles:

 

Wheelchair visitorsComplimentary standard wheelchairs
Accessible seating places
Visitors with a visual impairmentVerbal descriptions by professionals 
Visitors with a hearing impairmentAmerican Sign Language (ASL) interpretation
Assistive-listening devices
Visitors with sensory processing disordersA social narrative guide to know what to expect during the visit
Quiet places

Thanks to inclusive design, access to culture is indeed possible and can take many forms. Visitors with disabilities benefit from endless innovations to share the same experience as any visitor. Therefore, a constant renewal is necessary to ensure everybody can enjoy culture. Research proves to be an essential part of inclusive design which is why Access Smithsonian, the Institute for Human Centered Design and MuseWeb collaborated to establish a guide on Inclusive Digital Interactives: Best Practices + Research

This guide is a must-read for anyone involved in inclusive design and its implementation in the cultural world. It provides detailed examples of case studies with a goal to constantly rethink and reconsider what is done at the present moment to foster innovation. 

As we can see, creating an accessible and barrier-free society through inclusive design can happen for many different fields. The challenges to raise only but increase the necessary constant renewal to think and rethink the solutions. Accessibility can be achieved thanks to innovative solutions! Together, let’s build an inclusive world! 

 

media

Inclusive design and accessibility both share a common goal even though their methods and solutions differ: enabling people with disabilities to be included in society and to enjoy the same services as anybody.

writer

Carole Martinez

Content Manager junior

stay updated

Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

other articles for you

follow us!

more articles

NEVER miss the latest news about the Smart City.

Sign up now for our newsletter.

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

powered by okeenea

The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

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

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

Accessibility Toolkit: When Complete Streets Help People with Disabilities

Accessibility Toolkit: When Complete Streets Help People with Disabilities

Accessibility Toolkit: When Complete Streets Help People with Disabilities

 

After World War II, cars’ supremacy started to shape Northern American cities. Consequently men started to be more and more dependent on their personal vehicle to move around and roads were designed to the detriment of sidewalks, mass transit and bike trails. 

It was not until the early 1970s that some states like Oregon began to design the urban space with all users in mind to make transportation network safer and more efficient. This is how Complete Streets-like policy was born. Many jurisdictions have followed over the years.

Today, no less than 1,200 agencies at local, regional and state levels have adopted Complete Street policies in the United States. Depending on the jurisdiction, Complete Streets can be a non-binding resolution, incorporated into local transportation plans or a fully bidding law.

Meanwhile accessibility has never been such a strong challenge. According to recent studies, 1 adult in 4 lives with a disability which amounts to 61 million Americans (cdc.gov).

So what are Complete Streets policies and above all why do they matter for disabled people?

Complete Streets design elements

Streets are more and more congested. It can be hard for everyone to find their place, especially in city centers where pedestrians, bikes and motorized vehicles coexist. 

Complete Streets policies precisely aim at enabling safe use and support mobility for all users using various street design elements such as:

⊗ Pedestrian infrastructure: sidewalks, crosswalks, median crossing islands, curb extensions, pinchpoint, Accessible pedestrian Signals for visually impaired people, pedestrian wayfinding, greenery, and street furniture.

⊗ Traffic calming measures to lower speeds of vehicles: speed humps, speed tables, speed cushions, signage, and traffic lights.

⊗ Bicycle accommodations: protected or dedicated bicycle lanes, repair stations, and bicycle parking.

⊗ Public transit equipment: Bus Rapid Transit, bus pullouts, transit signal priority, bus shelters, and dedicated bus lanes.

Incomplete streets obstacles for disabled people

Cars’ supremacy left a legacy in Northern American cities. 

Car-centric roadways lead to uneven access to urban services. And it is all the more true for disabled people who most often cannot use cars. Cities that don’t offer Complete Streets measures in their busiest areas force citizens and especially disabled people to face huge challenges when getting around.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of what is causing difficulties to pedestrians with disabilities in “incomplete streets”-like designs:

⊗ Unpaved, broken, or disconnected surfaces

⊗ Lack of curb cuts and ramp

⊗ Ponding of stormwater and runoff streams near intersections

⊗ Lack of Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) at signalized intersections. This article goes into more details about this specific point.

⊗ Inadequate sidewalks or intersections design

⊗ Wide intersections with limited crossing time

⊗ Lack of escalators, elevators or ramps to overcome steps

⊗ Inaccessible bus stops

⊗ Large spaces without landmarks

⊗ Routes going nowhere

⊗ Inappropriate sidewalk obstacles

⊗ and the list goes on…

What benefits for disabled people?

Complete Streets design provides an environment where all street users, particularly the most vulnerable, can get around safely and efficiently. This means that regardless of the mode of transportation, the age, the ability, or the confidence level, streets are accessible, safe  and appropriate for the needs of all users. 

Ontario was the first Canadian state to adopt a Complete Streets policy to help disabled citizens navigate streets more efficiently. In 2017, Ontario’s Growth Plan encouraged equity by incorporating strong directives in order to build streets that meet the needs of all road users.

“In the design, refurbishment, or reconstruction of the existing and planned street network, a complete streets approach will be adopted that ensures the needs and safety of all road users are considered and appropriately accommodated.”

Moreover statistics show that pedestrian street activity increases support of local businesses and expands employment opportunities.

Streets are complete and accessible using mainly:

⊗ Tactile walking indicators;

⊗ Accessible Pedestrian Signals;

⊗ Push buttons accessible to wheelchair users;

⊗ Ramps and curb cuts

However, the legacy of years of valuing cars in Northern American society and the difficulty to change attitudes towards the most fragile people show that there is a lot of work to be done. 

Considering that major american cities have less than 1% of signalized intersections equipped with Accessible Pedestrian Signals, it leaves a lot of room for improvement!

Wondering which Accessible Pedestrian Signal to choose? Use the new APS comparator!

Find out more about this policy.

media

Complete Streets design provides an environment where all street users, particularly the most vulnerable, can get around safely and efficiently.

This means that regardless of the mode of transportation, the age, the ability, or the confidence level, streets are accessible, safe  and appropriate for the needs of all users.

writer

Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

stay updated

Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

other articles for you

MOST POPULAR

Sorry, No Posts Found

follow us!

more articles

NEVER miss the latest news about the Smart City.

Sign up now for our newsletter.

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

powered by okeenea

The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

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

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

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: Accessibility Equipment Update

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: Accessibility Equipment Update

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: Accessibility Equipment Update

 

On the occasion of the Summer Olympic Games in 2020, the Japanese capital is playing host to nearly 500,000 tourists and 4,400 Paralympic athletes from August 24 to September 9, 2020. The city has already experienced the excitement related to such an event in 1964 and considerable work had been undertaken. This year, the challenge for Tokyo will be to welcome thousands of people who will flock from all over the world to attend this unique event and among them several thousand people with special needs.

The overall budget of the event is estimated at a minimum of $ 3.4 billion. A huge investment which is explained notably by making Olympic area and city infrastructures accessible to everyone.

But what about the accessibility equipment for the Olympic Games really? What is the national legislation in force related to accessibility? And what examples of application these laws have to date? We will see that the organization of this event is a great showcase for accessibility but that efforts still need to be made.

Local accessibility regulations

The number of elderly people is constantly growing in Japan. The older the population, the more the need for accessibility increases. In response to this growing problem, the Ministry of Territory, Infrastructure and Tourism brought into force in 2008 the “barrier free” law in order to allow everyone to move independently in public spaces such as train stations, airports, ports but also shopping centers and public buildings.

The accessibility of public spaces has resulted in numerous initiatives such as the installation of ramps, elevators, tactile floor markings, spaces reserved for wheelchairs users and information in braille.

The election of Tokyo in 2013 as the host city for the Olympic Games accelerated the process of implementing this law and enabled as many people as possible to benefit from this sporting event. All accessible places will be identifiable by a blue sticker during the Olympic Games in summer 2020.

 

Olympic Games’ accessibility guidelines

In collaboration with relevant state organizations, the Tokyo government, municipal authorities and associations representing people with disabilities, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee formulated accessibility guidelines for the Olympic Games, which were approved by the international paralympic committee.

Among the competition venues, 24 already exist, 10 will remain temporary and 8 have been built specially for the Games. The other places targeted by the accessibility guidelines include existing accommodation places and public transport as well as those created for the occasion.

Access and circulation equipment

These guidelines apply to all access and circulation equipment such as:

⊗ Access routes and movement areas which must be free of obstacles and a minimum of 5.9 feet wide.

⊗ The ramps if access to the same height from the ground is not possible (different inclinations depending on the sites are proposed in the guidelines).

⊗ Stairs whose steps must be of uniform height and depth, avoiding spiral staircases.

⊗ Ground surfaces which must not present any risk of tripping and offer reliable directional indicators which adapt to all users. In addition, exterior pathways must be equipped with tactile paths.

⊗ Reception desks, entrances and exits must be accessible to people with reduced mobility.

⊗ Doors must be designed so that they can be pushed by people in wheelchairs, pushing strollers, or carrying heavy objects.

⊗ Elevators and escalators which must be installed near passageways.

Equipment dedicated to spectators

Regarding equipment dedicated to spectators, the guidelines also makes recommendations for:

⊗ Seated places: at least 0.50% of the total number of places must be accessible to people with reduced mobility. The same ratio is applicable to places dedicated to their companions.

⊗ The toilets and changing rooms must be designed to accommodate people with reduced mobility as well. A unisex toilet intended to accommodate a person in a wheelchair is compulsory for each toilet block.

For more details on the recommended technical specifications, please refer to the 2020 Olympics accessibility guidelines.

An example of application of the accessibility guidelines: the Tokyo Games Athletes’ Village

The Village concept is based on the principle of universal design. A place designed specifically for the occasion and 100% accessible to allow athletes to relax and concentrate.

The Village fully complies with the committee’s accessibility guidelines. Every detail has been thought out to accommodate Paralympic athletes in order to ensure their comfort for the competition.

For example, the Tokyo government has carried out a study to ensure that the configuration of the elevators meets the specific requirements of the Tokyo 2020 Games as well as long-term needs. Also, double rooms have been converted into single rooms so that athletes with special needs can benefit from sufficient space.

With a maximum slope of 2.5 degrees, the Olympic Village site is geographically adapted to accommodate all visitors. The access to the seaside was designed with a slight slope. Also, the longest distance between the athletes’ entrance and the residences is 929 yards.

 

Transport: a futuristic shuttle to reduce obstacles

Another example of a practical accessibility application, this time related to transportation, is Toyota’s futuristic Accessible People Mover (APM) shuttle. As the global Olympic partner, the automaker has developed an electric vehicle for short distances. The 200 shuttles will be able to transport athletes, staff and visitors with mobility difficulties to the various sites of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Using an integrated ramp, the vehicles designed specifically for the Games can transport two passengers and one person in a wheelchair at a time for the “last one mile”.

 

To conclude

If Japan remains an example in terms of accessibility in Asia, it still has a long way to go to match its European counterparts.

The President of the International Paralympic Committee Andrew Parsons remains particularly worried about the accessibility of hotel rooms in the city. Recently, hotels with 50 or more rooms were required to have only one accessible room. The law has recently been changed to bring this level to 1% of the total number of rooms per hotel. This reform will be a positive legacy for the Paralympics, but is likely to arrive too late for the competition itself.

In general, Japan maintains protective towards its disabled citizens. Despite the new regulations and the overall improvement in the accessibility of public places, “you don’t see people with disabilities moving around, because there is a cultural barrier. They are expected to stay at home, ” said Andrew Parsons.

However, the organization of the Olympic Games remains a great opportunity to change mentalities and regulations. As a legacy of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Beijing Airport now has a parking specially adapted for disabled people. The event also helped build wheelchair ramps in streets, malls and major cultural attractions.

Another highlight during the Beijing Olympics, the city installed accessible pedestrian signals at pedestrian crossings to assist people with visual limitation.

Like Beijing and the other host cities, let the positive pressure on Tokyo help the Japanese capital make the transition to a more accessible city.

media

The election of Tokyo in 2013 as the host city for the Olympic Games accelerated the process of implementing the “barrier free” law and enabled as many people as possible to benefit from this sporting event.

writer

Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

stay updated

Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

other articles for you

MOST POPULAR

Sorry, No Posts Found

follow us!

more articles

NEVER miss the latest news about the Smart City.

Sign up now for our newsletter.

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

powered by okeenea

The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

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

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

Brisbane: A City for Everyone

Brisbane: A City for Everyone

Brisbane: a City for Everyone

 

Currently in Australia, it has been estimated that approximately 357,000 people are either blind or experience some form of vision impairment. This number has been projected to increase to 564,000 by 2030. 

Moreover 8% of pedestrians with vision impairment living in Australia have reported being involved in a collision with a vehicle or a bicycle in the last five years. 20% have reported being involved in a near collision in the same period.

Taking into consideration these statistics, how can the City of Brisbane improve street navigation of people living with some form of visual limitation? What concrete solutions have been implemented so far and will be in the future to ensure everyone has equal opportunity to enjoy the city?

 

Proven solutions to favor accessibility of blind pedestrians in Brisbane

 

Brisbane City Council controls more than 6800 kilometres of roads, which include 50,000 intersections and more than 850 sets of traffic lights. No wonder why it can be a nightmare navigating the City when you have visual impairment. 

Statistically, hazards occur more at junctions than anywhere else. It is then the responsibility of local council to take action in order to ensure safety to everyone.

“Council has been undertaking positive education with the public about the importance of independent mobility of pedestrians with vision impairment so that residents and businesses can help be part of a solution that strikes a fair balance between the needs of pedestrians.”

Adrian Schrinner, Lord Mayor of Brisbane since 2019

 

Brisbane Access and Inclusion Plan 2012-2017 

 

Between 2012 and 2017, the Council has invested $200 million in implementing the Brisbane Access and Inclusion Plan dedicating part of its effort on Pedestrian mobility and transport. Of the overall amount, approximately $6.8 million were fully dedicated each year to make the city more accessible for all its citizens.

After this five-year plan in 2017, 80% of residents agreed that Brisbane was a more inclusive and accessible city (up from 61% in previous years).

This accessibility plan includes but is not limited to initiatives to help blind and low vision pedestrians cross the street independently such as:

⊗ Audio-tactile signals or audible tactile traffic signals (ATTS) at signalised junctions to communicate information about the green and red intervals in non-visual format.

Local representatives have publicly stated that “Special facilities including audible and tactile features now exist at most traffic light pedestrian crossings” although no official statistics are available at the time being.

However Lord Mayor of Brisbane Adrian Schrinner has declared that “In Brisbane we consider ourselves to be highly accessible, which is why we previously voluntarily installed audio tactile facilities at all signalised intersections within the Brisbane CBD and over 500 intersections across Brisbane.”

Brisbane’s audible traffic signals (ATTS) have the particularity to automatically respond to background noise and thus operate on lower volumes in the late evening and early morning.

More info on local audible tactile traffic signals (ATTS) guidelines.

 

⊗ Extended walking times at designated signalised pedestrian crossings to allow people with slow walk to cross the street safely and in their own pace. Extended walk times are currently provided in locations where there is high use from specific user groups that require additional time to cross.

⊗ Widespread braille trail network to help people with visual limitation move independently. A braille trail is a pathway of paving with dots and dash patterns intended for visually-impaired people walking with a cane. Brisbane’s original braille trail was established in the Queen Street Mall back in 1989. An investment of $90,000 has been made in the recent years to lengthen it.

“At about 1.6 kilometres in length, the Brisbane CBD braille trail network through Queen Street mall, Albert Street, Reddacliff Place and King George Square is the longest continuous braille trail in Australia.”

⊗ Tactile ground surface indicators (TGSIs). The City will continue to install tactile ground surface indicators according to Australian Standards at locations of high use and on request. Brisbane city council will also upgrade bus stops with TGSI’s features in response with users’ requests.

⊗ Consistent, firm and even pathways to prevent from tripping hazards

⊗ Tactile street signs on traffic lights to help residents and visitors navigate the streets. 390 brightly-coloured rectangular signs are now in place across the city at locations selected by residents and associations. Street name and building numbers are printed in braille in yellow raised letters on the same pole and height as the pedestrian push-button.

⊗ Safe unsignalised pedestrian crossings including the design and installation, where appropriate, of footpath build-outs and pedestrian refuge islands.

 

As a reward the council’s investment in the five-year Access and Inclusion Plan, Brisbane won the National Disability, Access and Inclusion Award 2017 Awards. 

Council’s investment in access and inclusion has been recognised across the country. But Brisbane does not stop there and aims at being the world accessibility leader in ten years.

“By 2029 Brisbane will be a city for everybody – known worldwide for embracing all ages, abilities and cultures.”

Graham Quirk, Lord Mayor of Brisbane (2011-2019)

 

How to make Brisbane world accessibility leader?

 

In 2019, the end of Lord mayor Graham Quirk’s term to Adrian Schrinner has triggered the second installment of the inclusive plan: A City for Everyone: Draft Inclusive Brisbane Plan 2019-2029.

This draft includes several accessibility and inclusion projects for the ten years to come to go one step further in making Brisbane truly accessible to blind and partially-sighted people.

Among the new initiatives on the agenda, the creation of digital platforms and apps, which takes a naturally significant part in the program with regard to the physical installations that have been introduced so far. The objective is to leverage those physical accessibility equipment to offer additional digital services.

In 2017, the app Access 4000 was developed to provide real time information on different accessibility features available in businesses and venues around Brisbane such as automated doors, disabled parking and toilets, hearing loop, interpreter, lifts, support for low vision or blindness and wheelchair access.

Furthemore, community organisations and Brisbane Marketing – the city’s economic development board – has partnered to create a mobile phone application with a map and a potentially augmented reality platform to assist people with disability to navigate Brisbane streets, publics spaces, buildings and plan their journey. Acting as an outdoor and indoor digital wayfinding system, this new undergoing project gives great prospects for the autonomy of visually impaired people.

Additionally, to enable Brisbane citizens to be informed of updates on temporary obstacles or closures affecting pedestrians, an online portal will be created. This platform will also give residents better information on community transport and shared vehicle options. By offering this digital solution to its citizens, visually impaired people of Brisbane will finally be aware of disruption of accessible routes.

More information on how to maintain pedestrian accessibility when carrying out street works.

Regarding physical accessibility, the council is planning on investing its efforts on pedestrian crossings enhancements, walking and wheeling tour for people with different sensory needs and the creation of tactile library spaces for visitors with specific needs such as autism or blindness.

 

We are looking forward to the official publication of the 2019-2029 Brisbane Inclusive Plan that will set the tone of the ten years to come regarding the city’s accessibility policy. 

Will Brisbane be the worldwide accessibility leader by 2029 outperforming major european, american and asian cities? 

See you in ten years!

media

Between 2012 and 2017, the Council has invested $200 million in implementing the Brisbane Access and Inclusion Plan dedicating part of its effort on Pedestrian mobility and transport. Of the overall amount, approximately $6.8 million were fully dedicated each year to make the city more accessible for all its citizens.

writer

Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

stay updated

Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

other articles for you

MOST POPULAR

Sorry, No Posts Found

follow us!

more articles

NEVER miss the latest news about the Smart City.

Sign up now for our newsletter.

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

powered by okeenea

The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

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

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

Have You Ever Heard About Visible Light Positioning? Tomas Escuin’s from i2CAT Offers His Insights

Have You Ever Heard About Visible Light Positioning? Tomas Escuin’s from i2CAT Offers His Insights

Have You Ever Heard About Visible Light Positioning? Tomas Escuin’s from i2CAT Offers His Insights

 

During our visit at the 9th edition of Smart City Expo in Barcelona we had the chance to discover a wide range of innovations which include a heavy emphasis on inclusion and accessibility. Among them, an encounter with Tomas Escuin and the innovation carried by his research center based in Catalonia i2CAT: Visible Light Positioning.

What is Visible Light Positioning? And how can it benefit the lives of disabled people?

Inclusive City Maker gives voice to Tomas Escuin in charge of the project development at local and international level.

Can you please introduce yourself and i2CAT?

I am Tomas Escuin, an industrial engineer with financial education and experience in technology transfer. 

The i2CAT Foundation is a non-profit research and innovation center that promotes mission-driven R&D activities on advanced Internet architectures, applications and services. More than 15 years of international research define our expertise in the fields of 5G, IoT, VR and Immersive Technologies, Cybersecurity, Blockchain, Open Big Data and AI. The center partners with companies, public administration, universities and end-users to leverage this knowledge in order to meet real society and business challenges.

 

“Fostering collaboration for an Internet based on intelligent systems and smart technologies.”

 

i2CAT promotes the technology transfer of the innovations and intellectual property outcome of research projects through:

⊗ Fostering strategic alliances to create innovative market-oriented technologies and solutions addressed to the different verticals.

⊗ Coordinating the design and deployment of trials for technological and functional validation purposes with local partners, public administration and users.

⊗ Setting up IPR exploitation agreements, creating mixed R&D teams with companies and boosting and supporting the creation of start-ups.

 

More information about i2CAT, key figures and the Annual Report here.

 

How does Visible Light Positioning work?

Visible light positioning works as the image below shows:

 visible light positioning

 

Ceiling lights emit different codes (blinking patterns) that can be read by the camera of a conventional smartphone, which is, in effect, taking pictures constantly. Thanks to the camera configuration that our app provides, the smartphone “sees” the light fixtures as barcodes that are translated as positions. Knowing the position of the different lights detected, the phone can calculate a specific position.

To make the lights blink, we have created a modulator that can be configured to switch on and off the lights by following the loaded code.

 

How does Visible Light Positioning can benefit disabled people in their day-to-day lives?

Our technology allows a high-accuracy and low-cost positioning system for indoor environments, so it can be used in a very wide range of cases. 

For disabled people, our approach would be to use the position of the individual in order to offer the user information about his/her immediate environment.

One case was the supermarket that you experienced at SCEWC. What we did was recreate a supermarket setting with products on shelves and ceiling lights. When pointing at products with the smartphone camera facing upwards, an audible message could be heard stating the nature of the product. 

In this context, Visible Light Positioning allows blind people to know which products are in front of them, but also allows people with motor disabilities who can not reach the products to read their labels.

But, this technology can have many more uses. For instance, we could deploy our system in subway/train stations, airports, state buildings or public venues as a way to guide people with visual impairments or to facilitate other information when pointing their phones at something (doors, signs, etc.).

 

Do all smartphones have light-sensing capabilities?

 

Yes and no… The only thing we do is take pictures constantly, but our App needs to “talk” with the camera of the phone to explain how to take those pictures in terms of exposure, shutter speed, contrast, etc… The issue is that not all phones have the required level of possibilities to deploy this camera configuration, but most do. We haven’t developed the app for iOS yet.

 

Is i2CAT working on other projects that could directly influence the lives of disabled people in the future?

 

Although we are not specifically targeting disabled people, we do our best to apply our research to society in general so that technology can benefit every citizen.

Vincles BCN is an example. It’s not intended for disabled people but for elders. Vincles BCN is a social innovation project that aims to strengthen the social ties of older people living in Barcelona who feel alone and to improve their well-being through new technologies. Its main objective is to break with the social isolation of the elderly through the establishment of a network of public support and of its personal environment, which includes family, friends, social workers and volunteers through the use of a tablet.

media

In this context, Visible Light Positioning allows blind people to know which products are in front of them, but also allows people with motor disabilities who can not reach the products to read their labels.

writer

Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

stay updated

Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

other articles for you

MOST POPULAR

Sorry, No Posts Found

follow us!

more articles

NEVER miss the latest news about the Smart City.

Sign up now for our newsletter.

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

powered by okeenea

The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

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

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

Smart City Expo: A Flagship Event Moving ‘Towards Inclusivity’

Smart City Expo: A Flagship Event Moving ‘Towards Inclusivity’

Smart City Expo: A Flagship Event Moving ‘Towards Inclusivity’

 

The city of Barcelona is about to host the 9th edition of the Smart City’s flagship international event: the Smart City Expo World Congress. This international trade show is the #1 meeting point for Smart City players, which has gathered more than one million visitors from around the world since its creation in 2011.

It is an opportunity for experts, politicians, companies, research centers and global organizations to share their vision and lead together the urban transformation of tomorrow.

Facts and figures about Smart City Expo

Smart City Expo infographic

An inclusive edition: ‘Towards Inclusivity’

A smart city is not just a sustainable and innovative city. Inclusion, and particularly inclusion of people with disabilities, remains an important innovation driver for the Smart City.

This year, the Smart City Expo World Congress puts inclusion at the heart of its approach with an initiative called ‘Towards Inclusivity’, proposing measures to limit the divide related to disability, language, religion or gender.

Here are the initiatives dedicated to disabled people that you can find during the event this year:

⊗ electric scooters available for people with reduced mobility,

⊗ reserved spaces for wheelchairs and electric scooters,

⊗ guided tour available for visually impaired people,

⊗ full accessibility of the venue.

Many debates and conferences on the theme of inclusion will also be proposed during the event to raise awareness and enable all participants to act on their own scale to respond to inclusion society’s challenges, such as digital inclusion, gentrification, urban justice or the sharing economy.

Why participate in Smart City Expo World Congress?

You are involved in the Smart City industry? You want to develop your network? Find partners or customers?

Smart City Expo is the place to connect with your entire ecosystem. Between start-ups, cities, institutions, politicians, more than 25,000 participants from around the world are expected for this event. Don’t miss it!

Moreover, according to the statistics provided by the organizers, two out of three people present at the event are decision-makers, which makes Smart City Expo the ideal place for the collection of qualified prospects and the creation of new collaborations. Overall 92% of participants were satisfied with the quality of contacts established in previous editions.

Join the adventure!

Practical information

From 19 to 21 November 2019 at the Fira Barcelona in Barcelona.

More information the Smart City Expo World Congress website.

 

What is the Smart City? To go further, read our article on the topic: How Can a Smart City Make Life Easier for People with Disabilities?

media

This year, the Smart City Expo World Congress puts inclusion at the heart of its approach with an initiative called ‘Towards Inclusivity’, proposing measures to limit the divide related to disability, language, religion or gender.

writer

Zoe Gervais

Zoe Gervais

Content Manager

stay updated

Get the latest news about accessibility and the Smart City.

other articles for you

MOST POPULAR

Sorry, No Posts Found

follow us!

more articles

NEVER miss the latest news about the Smart City.

Sign up now for our newsletter.

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

powered by okeenea

The French leading company

on the accessibility market.

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

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