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Researching Accessibility Gaps in Transit Hubs Communication Systems and Standards

The National Center for Accessible Transportation (NCAT) at Oregon State University and the WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) researched accessibility gaps within communication technologies used in transportation hubs and identified opportunities for universal and accessible design considerations within industry communications standards. This research effort included coordination with emergency alerting initiatives deployed or in development at the national, state and municipal level, where communications interoperability challenges are a serious problem.

Project results are available in the paper Accessible Transit Passenger Communications Research and Recommendations. Recommendations are:

  • Quality: The quality of publicly available transit information must be high. The lack of quality control at different levels can seriously impact travelers with disabilities and people who are highly dependent on accurate travel information.
  • Transit apps: Agencies must insist on having accessible mobile apps. It is the ultimate responsibility of the transit agencies to ensure mobile app accessibility whether they develop the apps in house, outsource development to a company they choose, or release data for public use.
  • Legislation: Agencies that hire vendors to provide transit apps should insist on accessibility features as a matter of policy, regardless of existing or pending legislation.
  • Training: Make it explicit policy that any transit professional involved in communicating with the traveling public must be trained in accessible communications, to include: signage and videos in transportation hubs; and web/mobile delivery.
  • Staffing: It is critical to identify specific staff that are responsible for accessibility, and to ensure all staff are aware of policies on accessibility.