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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Impact of Information Access on Travel Behavior of Blind or Vision Impaired People


To date, most attention and compliance to the ADA mandates for equal access to transportation has been focused on the non-ambulatory/wheelchair bound traveler. These modification costs have been tremendous. Buses and trains have had to be retrofitted or new equipment purchased to provide wheelchair lifts and designated seating areas. Much transit infrastructure has been totally rebuilt to allow for elevators to bypass struts, level access boarding and other costly structural modifications. Not so subtle grumbling is heard when few wheelchair users are seen in these facilities or on the expensive retrofitted buses. The blind and visually impaired in this country represent a significantly large group of disabled persons (almost three times the number of wheelchair users) who also need help with transportation modifications The good news, uncovered in the empirical analysis resulting from our survey, is that their needs do not seem to require anywhere near the massive financial outlays required by the adaptations for wheelchair users. Traveling for visually impaired people means moving through a world lacking many or all of the visual cues that sighted travelers, and many transit providers, take for granted. The absence of visual cues such as bus stop signs, bus numbers, bus schedules, and street signs are the main barriers to equal access to transportation reported in this study. This group’s main need is simply more and better INFORMATION.

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