A group of UK transportation industry experts have said that transport solution providers using intelligent transport systems (ITS) must make sure that they remember disabled and vulnerable travelers in every stage of a project’s development.
The ITS-UK Inclusive Mobility Interest Group warns that by not designing solutions that are inclusive for all, providers will actually manage to implant another opportunity for inaccessibility, noting that 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.
The Group quoted official statistics showing there are around 11 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, and 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, a smartphone app that helps partially sighted people navigate through indoor locations, and the Finnish Mobility as a Service (MaaS) concept and available systems, which ensures that there is always an option to deal with a human being, rather than an app or machine interface when booking journeys on any form of transport. The IM Interest Group has committed to providing a report on its findings and detailed advice in the autumn.
“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,” commented Bryan Matthews, the ITS-UK’s Inclusive Mobility Group chairman. 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’s secretary general, Jennie Martin, added, “It is clear there are a great number of ways in which transport technology can help the most disadvantaged travelers, and I am proud that ITS-UK is helping to make sure they are not forgotten.”