Making Journeys More Accessible for the Hearing-Impaired Passenger

Target Audience: The target audience for this entry is two-fold: first being hearing-impaired passengers and second being transportation operators – especially those who want to drive more accessible journeys at rail stations and on rail platforms. The video was created by the speaker/demonstrator himself – from shoestring tactics and raw video equipment. The video was produced in partnership with NGOs, non-profit organizations, and transportation operators who were willing to take part in the trial.

Strategy Objective:The video was created to 1) educate the hearing-impaired passenger on how to use HEAR at their station/rail platform, 2) empower those passengers to travel independently and, 3) highlight the need for investment in accessible wayfinding. The strategy of the video was to promote confidence in those with hearing impairments letting them know of any changes or disruptions during their journey, promote equal treatment to people with hearing loss, and encourage passengers to choose rail transit over other modes.

Situation Challenge: 66 percent of people with disabilities struggle to make their journeys independently. 24.6 million Americans aged 18 and older have self-reported, travel-limiting disabilities, and less than half of these passengers are aged 65 and older. Specific to the hearing-impaired passenger: they can find travel experiences to be inaccessible and lack satisfactory travel experience. Research shows that 7% of hearing-impaired people are somewhat confident that they will be made aware of changes and disruptions during their trip and 16% believe they are treated equally compared to people without hearing loss.

Results Impact: The video was used in tandem with a survey with NGO partners for 58 people with hearing impairments to discover the ease of travel and boost confidence. Of those surveyed, 96 percent of the people were more confident during their journey and hoped to utilize public transit for more of their travel – rather than on-demand transit. The video was used as organic and sponsored content on LinkedIn. Over the course of the first two weeks of being published on LinkedIn, the video received over 13K views and an engagement rate of 6.2 percent.

Why Submit: Every passenger deserves the same accommodations when riding public transit. Each passenger can have confidence in riding public transit. Amidst the COVID pandemic, we as an industry should encourage those to ride public transit, regardless of age, medical factors, disabilities, or native language. Human needs are diverse, and as we have seen in recent years, will change with circumstances and time. Universal and inclusive design principles can help guide the way forward. Pairing purpose-designed digital technology with real-time information will enable operators to cater to as many needs as possible and provide an empowering experience for all.