Vehicle design is one of the starting points that can help provide better accessibility of public and private transport for disabled people and thus contribute significantly to full and equal participation in society, generating full inclusion.
With the demographic evolution in Europe, it is very likely that more and more passengers will be disabled in the coming years, so accessibility is a necessary element of the long-term sustainability of transport in general.
1. Public transport
Include a ramp system: Both manual and automatic ramps are currently used and there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Assistance is needed to place manual ramps, but these ramps are also less prone to faults and are therefore more reliable. Automatic ramps are more convenient and can be operated remotely by the vehicle driver. Drivers must help and can’t refuse a disabled person in the bus.
Passengers with disabilities can ask for assistance and if the passenger can’t access from a station to another, substitute transport must be provided. Train operators and staff must help disabled people with their luggage and in order to help them access trains, all the trains must offer the appropriate ramp system.
‘Passenger Assistance is free and available to anyone who needs assistance due to a disability, temporary impairment, or old age. No railcard is required. For more information ask at your local station or visit the website of your local train operator’, the Office of Rail and Road, which protects the interests of rail and road users, explains.
1. Cars with improved accessibility
There are several options: either to buy a vehicle that has already been adapted to the needs of people with disabilities or to buy a new vehicle and call in a specialist company to make the necessary adjustments. Another option is to purchase a second-hand vehicle that has already been modified and is compliant.
The options to be found on these vehicles are:
– If the wheelchair user is driving: remove the driver’s seat to facilitate access, modify the driving system by placing a joystick or trigger control, and also by placing an accelerator directly next to the steering wheel.
– For access to the vehicle: a ramp is essential, preferably at the rear of the vehicle.
– Lowered floors, a restraint system for wheelchairs and suitable seatbelts are equally important to ensure safety and comfort.
Public vehicles and means of transportation are becoming better equipped and more accessible, but more work still needs to be done. Private transportation service providers have also been investing more in making their vehicles better suitable to be used by all passengers. Most of the changes that have been made are designed to meet the needs of wheelchair users, while those who are hearing or sight impaired may still require better adjustments to the services provided.