Transport solution providers using intelligent transport systems must make sure that they remember disabled and vulnerable travellers in every stage of development, a group of experts have said.
The ITS (UK) Inclusive Mobility Interest Group warn that by not designing solutions that are inclusive for all, providers will actually manage to implant another opportunity for inaccessibility, warning that this would not only would disabled people miss out on the opportunities offered by ITS solutions, but ITS providers would miss out on a significant market for products and services.
They quoted official statistics showing there to be around eleven million disabled people in the UK saying that when you factor in the ageing of the population, this number is expected to rise over time. The group agreed that it is important that people with mental health issues and other non-visible impairments receive more consideration than has previously been the case.
Practical solutions put forward included making sure training covers inclusive mobility and engaging not only with users but also non users so solutions do not perpetuate exclusion.
The group has promised to draw up a checklist of steps for any transport provider to consider in order to ensure no user group is excluded. It will also liaise with other ITS (UK) Interest Groups to advise on Inclusive Mobility. This includes a call for the industry to try to encourage more people with disabilities to make their career in ITS.
Some practical technology solutions were showcased at the meeting, including Wayfindr, an app which helps partially sighted people navigate through indoor locations, and the Finnish Mobility as a Service solution which ensures that there is always an option to deal with a human rather than an app or machine when booking journeys.
Group chair Bryan Matthews said, “This has been a very exciting and uplifting meeting and I am so glad we are able to help to ensure ITS solutions deliver inclusive mobility. We look forward to providing practical ideas and suggestions and being at the heart of development – we refuse to merely stand on the sidelines complaining without offering any practical advice.”
ITS (UK) Secretary General Jennie Martin added, “It is clear there are a great number of ways in which transport technology can help the most disadvantaged travellers and I am proud that ITS (UK) is helping to make sure they are not forgotten.”
The group has committed to providing its advice in the autumn.