EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ACCESSIBLE TRANSPORTATION FOR ALL

The History of Transportation


Transport was developed centuries ago as a means to ease the movement of people from one place to another or to provide access to areas that seemed rather unreachable on foot. It was as early as 3000 BC or 4000 BC that humans learned to take the assistance of animals like a donkey or horse as a means of transport by either traveling on them or attaching a cart behind them to carry goods. The carts were not an option until 3,500 BC when the first wheel (made out of wood in Iraq) was invented. Until the wheel was invented, the animals themselves were the sole means of transportation other than on foot. There was an approximate overlap in the timeline between the invention of the wheel and that of the first boat ever by the Egyptians. 

 

The exact timeline is not known, but it was the people from Rome who have been known to build the first roads, and John Lou McAdam is set to be the man behind the first highway ever built during the Industrial Revolution Era. The transportation industry made more progress during the 17th and 18th centuries. It was around this time that trains, cycles, buses, cars, and planes were added to the transport sector of the economy. It is interesting, but the first-ever cars that were used as a means of transportation had an engine that was attached outside the car’s body. The first car ever that had a combustion engine placed inside the boy was actually developed in 1906.

 

This type of engine was a breakthrough invention and paved the way for the future of transportation in the areas of trains, planes, boats, and cars. Once different types of vehicles were being manufactured, various companies sprung up to compete for the top positions in their respective sectors. Some of the top companies in the automobile sector included General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford.

There were unlimited innovation and progress seen in transportation over the years. In the area of automobiles, you could see small cars, big cars, two-door options, four-door options, petrol or CNG option, sedan or SUV options, and manual versus automatic options. Similarly, trains started off as being bulky and manual, but now we live in a world of metros and bullet trains. Airplanes have gotten much more efficient, can travel longer distances, and have higher levels of safety while traveling. In a nutshell, the transportation mediums at our disposal today have made life much easier, helps save time, and makes travel hassle-free.

Train
old car
airplane

The factors that impact the development of Transportation

Transport was invented with the aim of improving the lives of people. However, that is not the only factor that impacts the development and progress of transportation over time. The many factors that impact any innovation or design ideas in the domain of transportation include:

  1. The Environmental Factors and Implications: It is unfortunate, but every transportation medium tends to run on a type of fuel and releases emissions into the environment that can be very damaging. Alternatively, environmental factors like geographic terrain and weather are an integral factor in the development of relevant transportation.

     

    This can be seen in the construction of bridges, which is much easier in flatter terrain as compared to rocky and steep terrain. Similarly, the climate is a very important factor when it comes to transport. A car designed for snowy climates will not be relevant in areas of hot climate around the globe. 

    Airplanes also have to be designed, keeping in mind the geographic terrain and climate of a region. This is because not all geographical locations allow for an Airbus to make a smooth landing on its terrain. Sometimes the location might require travel in a smaller plane or a charter flight to be able to land smoothly.

     

  2. Cultural and historical factors: This may seem less plausible, but cultural factors have a huge role to play in the area of transport development. Major brands like Volkswagen, Ford, Rolls Royce, and the Mustang are known for the level of cultural and historical influence present in the designing of their vehicles. Furthermore, the concept of a single person car versus a family car tends to be different in various locations of the world, thereby requiring a different design of the vehicle. Asian families mostly have a single-family car per house, and hence they tend to look for a design that accommodates all their needs and is still affordable.

    Contrastingly owing to the ease of loans and mortgages in countries like the USA, individuals tend to have their own car after a legally permissible age. Hence these cars will be completely different as compared to the family car of an Asian family.

  3. Political: The decision pertaining to transport development is taken by the ruling government. This makes it a decision of political nature since the allocation of land for the purpose of building roads, bridges, railroad tracks, and the required airports are in the hands of the government. This will also include taxation, meeting of safety requirements, and the necessary intercity transportation network. The most important element is that these decisions have to be made at a national level, considering the trade requirements of the respective country. Lack of adequate transportation networks or the presence of too many regulatory requirements (red-tapism) can lead to damaging trade relations with other countries.

  4. Economic/ Financial: The Economic standing and the financial stability of an economy directly impacts the level of infrastructure and transport development. This is because both of these factors tend to affect the amount of money an economy has available to spend on the various means of transportation. The better performing a country’s economy is, the more advanced its transportation system will be. 

Importance of a well functioning Transport network

Transport has always been a given aspect of every economy. However, at times either this facility is taken for granted, not given enough importance, not maintained, or has been completely neglected. The current status of transport across the world is very diversified. There are economies like the USA and Canada that present some of the best roads, state of the art highways, unparalleled rail and air transport, and gorgeous oceans for travel by the sea. Contrastingly there are still certain cities in Africa, Pakistan, and India where even a single proper road is considered a blessing, and the most advanced form of transport available is a Rickshaw or a local cab service. 

This diversity stems from the level of importance given and the level of investment made by these countries in their transport sector. Since transport has been present in some form or another in our lives, it is taken for granted at times by the people and even by the governments. A well-functioning transport network has a multifaceted impact on a country and its people:

 

  1. It is a basic necessity required for the functioning and mobility of the population. If there are no functional roads, railways, or highways, people won’t be able to travel around much or would find it very stressful. Even in order to get groceries or to get to work, the availability of transportation is absolutely integral.

     

  2. Transportation is the basis for the availability of another basic necessity, which is food. Transport is needed to bring in vegetables, fruits, chicken, and beef from the farms to the main city for the consumption of the people. Furthermore, even manufactured goods need to be transported from their respective factories to the stores to be purchased and consumed by the people.

     

     

  3. A good transportation network forms the basis for well-developed trade in an economy. If the avenues of transport by air, sea, and road have not been developed to carry out trade, an economy can lose out on a lot of revenue and be completely dependent on local produce for consumption. Such economies drop to the bottom of the list of well-performing economies of the world. The sheer lack of trade can stunt the growth of an economy and cause it to incur massive financial losses.

  4. A reliable air transport network is a requirement if a country wants its airline to be used for local and international travel or if it wants other airlines to bring flights to its airports. Air transportation is also needed if an economy is looking to grow its tourism sector. The absence of this can discourage travelers from visiting your country (lost revenue) and can damage its image as a tourist destination.

  5. The availability of transport eases travel and makes an economy much more efficient and productive. It is also one of the industries known to create a large number of direct and indirect (car mechanic) jobs for the people of the economy.

  6. A well-developed transportation network plays the role of the stimulus that provides synergy to all the other resources of the economy.
subway
bus
timelapse of the highway from overhead

What is Accessible Transportation?

There are multiple mediums of transport available at the disposal of every individual. However, the pertinent question to be asked is if every transport medium is accessible to everyone. It is assumed to be a given fact that every type of transport will be accessible, but unfortunately, it is not. In a nutshell, accessible transportation is oversimplified, overestimated, and under met in most types of transportation mediums available for travel.

 

It is entirely possible that this is because there is not a uniformly acceptable definition of accessible transport across the world and across the different types of transport available. It is vital to consider differently-abled individuals when developing transportation mediums. This is because they do go out for groceries, school, jobs, or even just to spend some time outside and need access to quality transportation as much as any other individual. Any factor that may make transport tougher to use for non-disabled individuals may make it non-accessible for disabled individuals. Some examples of these include pedestrian paths, the safe seating area at the bus stops, roads, and streets that are free from a bumpy ride and easy to read signs pertaining to various destinations (like different bus stops).

 

There are multiple factors that can be considered and incorporated in order to make transport more accessible for a larger number of travelers. These include:

  1. Every type of transport that is developed in a country or for international travel should always keep in mind the needs of differently-abled individuals. A car or plane that is made only for those who thankfully are blessed with all senses is excluding a large part of the society and making them feel like an outcast.

     

  2. Accessible pathways are often neglected when considering transport. How will a disabled individual reach their required transport like a bus or a car when they are unable to walk to it or take their wheelchair to it. Non-accessible pathways are defined by uneven roads, bumpy roads, the presence of potholes and ditches, unfinished muddy roads, heightened boundaries or curbs, and large holed grates at the bottom. All of these can make it extremely difficult for an individual to reach their desired means of transportation since it is not feasible to be walked on with a stick or travel on by a wheelchair. Another factor is the lighting of the pathways and the waiting areas for all passengers. This becomes even more important for individuals who have a partial or fully compromised vision.

     

  3. Parking spaces that are accessible for disabled individuals have been seen recently. However, this is still not present everywhere across the world, and even if it is, the available space is a very small portion of the overall parking space (for example, in a mall). There is a need for acceptance that even disabled individuals drive their own vehicles, and they do require designated parking space for it. Furthermore, the parking space available to them should be proportionate to the percentage of the population they make up.

     

  4. Disabled individuals are in need of well developed waiting spaces much more than non-disabled individuals who can even stand and wait for their cab or bus. The waiting areas designed for cars, cabs, buses, or even a plane at the airport need to be functional enough for disabled individuals. This would include a ramp for a wheelchair, low steps, or those walking with a stick, the correct level of lighting to cater to those with compromised vision, seating area, no obstacles like a magazine kiosk in the pathway, and warning signs that can be felt by the blind.

     

  5. Feasibility of access to actual transport mediums:

a. Buses: This is a means of public transport that is used by the masses across the world to reach their respective destinations. Over time a lot of private companies have also been set up in this sector of the economy, but it still largely remains public. This has caused it to become affordable to a larger sector of the population, given its subsidized ticket rates. A transport medium that is used by such a large segment of the population should be made accessible for all, including the disabled. This would include having a separate seating area for the disabled, a wheelchair ramp, low height steps to assist those walking with a stick, and bars for boarding or getting off the bus. These facilities should be part of all the buses rather than a selective portion of the total number of buses.

b. Trains/subways/Metros: Trains have long been part of inter and intra-city transportation. It has been used for bulky goods like wood, coal, oil, and also as a convenient means of transportation. The recent innovations have made trains a lot faster and compact, which has resulted in it becoming the go-to option for traveling by a large segment of the population. Hence it is even more relevant to make it accessible for all as a means of transport for routine travel. Maneuvering around train tracks and a metro station can even be confusing for a non-disabled person. Therefore greater aid and assistance are required to make this means of transport accessible by the disabled. This requires the presence of ramps or lifts for wheelchairs, separate lines at the ticket counter for the disabled, separate seating areas within every train for them to avoid a lot of waiting time, and a ram for boarding the train as well. In addition to these bright guidance signs, ease of reading the train map and physical presence of warning signs is also compulsory.

 

c. Cab/Car service: These can either be a door to door service or be accessed via their stand at different points throughout the city. In either case, these are one of the most neglected areas of transport when it comes to accessibility. It seems that it is assumed that a person who is booking the service or waiting for the cab is not disabled or accompanied by someone who can help them in and out of the vehicle. It is rarely seen that a car or a cab has a ramp for a wheelchair, or a taxi stand has an adequate waiting area to cater to the disabled. Moreover, there is hardly a separate line (seen at airports at times) for them to access the cab, and they often have to wait for a long time with non-disabled individuals to get their turn. This is not preferential treatment; this is actually a necessity given their condition. Therefore it is necessary to have a portable ramp arrangement in cabs and cars, have a decent seating area for the traveler, and have a ramp for the wheelchair to come down from the pavement till the cab or car.

d. Motorcycles: This is one type of transport that has been seen with aids like support wheels and sidecars to help those with disabilities. There are even bikes that can directly have a wheelchair fitted in them and does not require the rider to transfer to a separate seat. Even though a motorcycle is normally used by a single person or two people, it has received much more consideration when designing it and making it more accessible for the disabled. Since this is mostly private transportation, the adjustments to the vehicles are made by the owner. However, these are seen to a lesser extent in the private bike service like Bykea.

e. Airplanes:  Air travel by default is considered stressful and a hassle for every individual. The baggage, checking in, boarding the flight, and the travel to the destination. At times non-disabled individuals even tend to find this tiring if they have to wait a long while for their luggage or the flight has a lot of turbulence. This discomfort is further magnified for individuals with disabilities, especially when there’s an absence of facilities to aid their travel experience. Airports do have a lot of security restrictions about drop off points being far from the main entrance. Since not all drop off points are equipped with aids for providing accessibility to disabled individuals, this can be quite stressful. All drop off and pick up points at the airports should have low curbs and a ramp for wheelchairs. Furthermore, porters (free of charge) should be present for these individuals to cater to their check-in and baggage claims. They should also provide assistance to them until they are seated on the plane. The waiting areas of the airport must be equipped with aids like a ramp or low steps to make mobility easier for disabled individuals.

Why Would You Need Accessible Transportation?

Nearly 30% of the total office staff in the United States of America alone is late due to transportation, which clearly shows why there is a need for a proper transportation system that is accessible for all. 

 If your daily commute is forcing you to spend hours and hours stuck in traffic or elbowing your way through a subway or in overly stuffed public mass transit vehicles, you probably already are aware of the countless struggles that one faces on the daily commute. Getting to work with squishy clothes or smeared makeup hardly puts up a good front. 

I am sure countless people don’t need any convincing about the importance of good quality and reliable transport systems. They are already fed up with being late and putting up with annoyed bosses and strict teachers to know what the fuss is about.

Now imagine the people with mobility issues and think about how bad they have it, with limited functionality and the majorly flawed non-accessible transport system. For many people with disabilities and the elders who live alone, this is not just another story, but an everyday reality. 

The daily struggle of limited transportation is all too real, with a large urban population facing issues every day. It is no longer just limited to a season; it is an everyday occurrence that needs to be dealt with on a priority basis. 

Think of it this way, there is a pedestal bridge, which is made for the ease of the general public, but it is still not accessible for all due to a million limitations in the structure. The bridge does not support a wheelchair aisle or have proper steps for people with limited mobility. 

Now imagine going to a subway with no way of wheeling yourself down the hole or having enough time to get on it or get out of it. Ignoring their rights is like depriving them of something that they don’t need to ask for, but should be provided with. 

The transportation system either stays completely off-limits to most of them or is incredibly difficult and overwhelming for passengers with disabilities, which makes even their small commute no less than an aggressive workout due to a logistics negligence. 

Mobility constraints are one of the most major obstacles for the disability and elderly inclusive development as they ignore the needs of an economic, social, and personal needs of a person with a disability and push them further into poverty by depriving them of the basic necessities of life.

disabled woman in an electric wheelchair moving down the street

Accessible transportation is the only way to provide everyone with the freedom of living an independent life, without relying on someone to look after your travel needs. It gives an individual the freedom to work for themselves and save them from living a life with no rights. It essentially gives you the confidence to travel from one destination to another and actually having the means to hire a service for it. It gives you the confidence to survive on your own.

Having accessible transportation is not limited to the healthy and the young, but it should be inclusive of all, including the elderly and people who have special needs. This is why the need for such transportation is not a luxury, but a public right. 

Mobility means that having enough transport options or services for each individual to travel and live freely. However, it is not limited to just providing the services. The main part is to make it available for everyone by keeping it friendly for everyone.

photo of a handicap area in an outside subway station

It also means that one should have proper knowledge about how to operate the service, how to use it, and have the means to actually pay for it as well. Individuals who have issues with mobility, cognitive impairments, or face sensory challenges in daily life also have the same rights as we do, which is why their needs for accessible transportation services should not be ignored. 

When the transportation system is not inclusive of the elderly or people with special needs, it generally sends out a message that the service is not really accessible for all. This negates the point that it is a basic right of every citizen. 

 

However, this includes not only the private entities, but also government-funded projects, such as subway, taxis, paratransit, and buses. 

Keeping the actual transportation means aside and focusing on the operational procedures that lead to traveling in these, you would notice they need to be accessible as well. From ticketing to travel information and even the design of these vehicles need to be more inclusive. 

The buses, which are used as transport for millions around the world, cater only to the healthy, and others are left scraping with a few available ones who either charge a premium or are not covering the area where they want to go. 

Similarly, with other systems, such as taxis or cab, if you live in New York, you are most probably aware of the nightmare of the system. It takes you forever to hail a cab, and let’s be honest, the everyday working individual struggles to afford for a daily commute across town to and from work. 

It just shows the glitch in the system and the lack of planning in making mass transit vehicles accessible for a greater audience. It shows how the lack of planning in terms of economic, budget, and social and how it can affect something as basic as the need to travel. 

Therefore, it is safe to say that the need for accessible transportation can bring about positive changes in a lot of lives; the disabled will be able to travel freely, the working class can get to work on time, and a lot of people will be able to afford it.

Something as small as accessible transportation can bring about a big change in someone’s life who faces difficulty in moving from one point to another. With interventions in these areas and mobility improvements, they can go a long way in changing their life for the better and live a respectable individual life.

Honestly, the need for transportation should not even be up for debate as law-abiding, and tax-paying citizens are only asking for their due rights. Other than making lives easier for them, the government will also be generating jobs for millions of people.

Jobs for drivers, system operators, builders, contractors, people who will provide raw material, and other vendors will all get new jobs.

The need for transportation does benefit not only the ones who are traveling in it but also those who are involved in the making.

Who Needs Accessible Transportation?

The answer to this question is widely relative, as accessible transportation is beneficial for all. As we said, it is not a matter of who should use it, it is more about whether everyone should be able to use it if they want to. 

Students are generally among the large group of people who are in dire need of accessible transportation as it is not always feasible to hail a cab, and not everyone can afford to buy a car. Between paying the bills, drawing in student loans, and staying on top of college work, it does not leave much space for luxuries. 

However, other than the issue of affordability, they also need practical solutions to reach school on time; with most public transport always full to the brim, they cannot always get the desired spot, which results in them being late. 

The issue of not reaching on time is not limited to students though, the office going population is also very much in need of solutions and suitable vehicles to get to work on time. According to research carried out a few years ago, this group of the public makes up the largest percentage of people who use this mode of transportation, especially in New York. 

Now this group of people has access to the limited transport services that are available in the country, what about the people who are exempted from the system and do not get a basic necessity, such as the access to a safe and secure public transport.

The system is lacking solutions for the disabled and the elderly, as they do not have the proper access to transport systems, which pushes them further into poverty due to a lack of resources for going to work. 

The disabled and the ones who have limited mobility are among the people who are in the direst need of a proper accessible transportation system, one that caters to them just like it caters to the other part of the population. 

Due to the limitations they have and the poor transportation system, which is not at all inclusive, they are further pushed into poverty with no means to reach their workplaces. They should be a part of the system, and transportation should be accessible for them. They are the ones who need accessible transportation the most. 

One in four disabled people is not able to use the transportation system due to the system glitches that do not allow them to be a part of something that should be easy for them. 

This percentage is dangerously high, especially because they make up 15% of the entire world’s population. This shows how alarming the situation is for them. If the government can offer them jobs, then they should find an easy way for them to get to it as well. 

One out of four, which does have access to safe transportation, face other difficulties, such as lack of wheelchair aisles and adequate supplies for them on board. It is completely absurd to expect them to adjust to something that is not made for them. 

Lastly, the elderly population, honestly speaking, it is not possible for them to make their way through all the elbows to get a decent seat on the subway or public trains, and as a result, they are also exempted from the system. They also face difficulties with not only the lack of services but also with the shortage of awareness. 

Most people usually do not know how to get to transportation services when and wherever they need it. Therefore, the number of people who can use it keeps on decreasing. The disabled are not taught how to call for them, and sometimes, they cannot even afford it. 

They are not able to mobilize themselves due to the lack of education and funds that should be able to solve their problems. 

We, as fully operational people face millions of problems while traveling in the current transport available, then how can we expect someone who has limited functionality to make their way through it. The chaos of daily life makes us deaf to the problems of others, which results in an even more problematic system.

Making transportation accessible is no longer an issue of providing basic rights, but is also an issue of inclusivity. The system should be equal to all and must cater to every individual. This is the only way to make services available to those who are most in need of it.

Refusing to find a solution for them is like declining them of the basic need to move from one place to another and making them dependent on their peers or families and snatching their right of living an independent life. 

Disabled rights are human rights, and the need to be able to move on their own is something that should not be declined.

Therefore, to summarize, the people who need accessible transportation are the general public, which is inclusive of all ages and all functionalities. This includes the elderly, the teens, the college-going people, the disabled, and the ones who have limited mobility. 

We all collectively need a better, well-managed, and accessible transportation system that does not discriminate and is affordable, safe, and secure.

everyone matters
a person in a wheelchair propelling themselves toward the sunset
Older disabled woman with crutches being helped by a nice younger lady
Woman stretching her leg that has a prosthetic
Group of people sitting around a table discussing and laughing

How to Find and/or Create Accessible Transportation For All

For Seniors/Elderly:

Scenario Description

The elderly and senior citizens of the society may not always fall in the category of being in a wheelchair or walking with a stick. However, that does not mean that they do not require certain aid and assistance in making transport accessible for them. Traveling is stressful for them, and at times much more tiring than it is for a younger individual. It is a given fact that when people age, they suffer from health issues, stiff or aching muscles, and a lower tolerance for hassle while traveling. They prefer to travel without uncomfortable delays that makes the trip tiring. In order to make transport better and accessible for an older person, it is important to consider their limitations. 

Man helps an older lady out of a van and into her wheelchair

Steps to make their transport accessible:

 

  1. If the elderly driver is in a wheelchair then the first step is to take the car to a mechanic and get modifications on it body. This will involve widening the width of the doors in order to ease the loading and disembarking of the wheelchair. In addition to this their needs to be a change in the storage capacity of the car at the back. If it is a hatchback car it would require to be extended to provide the needed storage space for a cane or a wheelchair. It will be really helpful if the floor of the car is lowered since it reduces the effort required to board the car and get off from it.

  2. Install a foldable ramp at the side of the driving seat to help with the wheelchair being loaded into the car. The ramp should be able to be folded and kept in the vehicle in a way that it does not pose a hazard to the driver. The sides of the ramp should be coated with silicone to prevent any cuts or bruises from the metal lamp. It should be made sure that the material of the ramp is sturdy enough to bear the weight of the wheelchair and the person in it otherwise it can cause serious injuries to them.

  3. Old age comes with stiff muscles and issues like arthritis. This may cause the extension of legs to use the brake and accelerator a tedious task for the driver. In order to ease this, mechanical modifications will be needed in the car to raise the levels of the bake and the accelerator to help them drive with comfort.

  4. If the car has a normal steering it should be modified to make it a power steering. This helps reduce the effort needed to manoeuvre the car and make it much easier to drive the car. A power steering is equipped to reduce the effort required from the driver to move the car while driving.
  5. Alter the seating from being fixed to becoming rotational. This will result in the seat facing the driver at the time they want to sit in the car so they do not have to drag themselves into place sideways. In a rotational seat the passenger can just sit directly and then rotate it to face the front of the car (it can even be lowered to the ground if needed). In order to do this the seat will have to be removed and a rotating device will have to be installed at its base to provide the needed modification. This works well for the elderly that are walking themselves or are in a wheelchair when it comes to driving a car themselves.

For those with Disability:

Scenario Description

Disabled individuals tend to suffer limitations with respect to their mobility on a day to day basis. Any sort of travel, whether short or long, tends to require great effort on their part. A lot of disabled individuals tend to avoid traveling on their own on available modes of transportation due to the discomfort that comes with publicly traveling with other individuals. They prefer to wait until a family member, or a friend is available to accompany them on their travel. Whether it is a short trip like going out for grocery or something big like international travel by air, they prefer being accompanied by someone they are comfortable with. Approximately 560,000 disabled individuals do not leave the house due to their condition. This does not mean that disabled individuals never go out on their own or that all disabled individuals are dependent on others for travel. There is just a certain percentage of them that would prefer not to travel completely solo.

Steps to make it accessible:

 

  1. Install support handles and bars in the car, in addition to the ones already present. These are to be screwed inside the body of the car based on the driver’s height and need for support. These handles are a huge support in helping the driver get seated and disembark from their vehicle.
  2. Provide accessibility for the wheelchair of the driver by taking the car to a mechanic and getting modifications in the car’s body. This will involve widening the width of the doors in order to ease the loading and disembarking of the wheelchair. In addition to this their needs to be a change in the storage capacity of the car at the back. If it is a hatchback car it would require to be extended to provide the needed storage space for the wheelchair. It will be really helpful if the floor of the car is lowered since it reduces the effort required to board the car and get off from it.

     

  3. A foldable ramp made of sturdy material should be installed at the driver’s seat in order to help with loading and disembarking of the wheelchair.

     

  4. The back door of the car should be modified to make it broader and have brackets to house a small lift that can provide the mechanical support to lift and place the wheelchair as a passenger seat. In order to be able to do so at least one passenger seat will have to be removed and brackets need to be installed in which the wheelchair can be locked. This would avoid the disabled individual getting up from their wheelchair and then sit in the car, they will directly be able to take the wheelchair in the car. The car will have to be given at a workshop for this with the required adjustments and it will become an accessible transport for the disabled individual.

     

  5. The controls of the cars like the clutch, brake, accelerator, steering wheel and indicators should all be adjusted as per the height and reach needs of the disabled individual. If a new car is being obtained then these requirements can be communicated to the company so that the installations come factory fitted. However, it is a used car then these modifications can be made by your neighborhood workshop.
  6. If the disability is muscle related then mirrors with panoramic view can be installed to prevent the additional effort required by the driver to look back or drive at blindspots.

     

  7. Alter the seating from being fixed to becoming rotational. This will result in the seat facing the driver at the time they want to sit in the car so they do not have to drag themselves into place sideways. In a rotational seat the passenger can just sit directly and then rotate it to face the front of the car (it can even be lowered to the ground if needed). In order to do this the seat will have to be removed and a rotating device will have to be installed at its base to provide the needed modification.
A disabled younger man in a wheelchair and an able older man ride the wheelchair elevator of a van up

For those with Cataracts:

Scenario Description

Cataracts are an eye condition that tends to vary in intensity, and based on that, it impacts the vision of the affected individual. At the early stages, the cataract does not feel significantly uncomfortable to the eye and does not impact the vision of the individual. However, once it starts to develop, it makes the eye more sensitive to the sunlight, makes driving tougher, results in a hazy version, and can hamper mobility. Once the cataract is developed to a certain extent, it becomes surgical, and then the lens of the individual is changed. A high level of care is required post-surgery, including protecting the eyes from any direct light up to 6 weeks.

 

An individual suffering from the early stages of cataract may be self-sufficient, but those who have a more mature case of it or are in a post-surgical phase need more assistance. Since cataract tends to impact visibility, the assistance that is needed for the affected individual is also in the same area.

woman with sun in her eyes driving

Steps to make it accessible:

 

  1. Install a screen and navigation system in the car that provides voice based guidance to the driver for providing directions. This will prevent the drivers from straining their eyes on the road for the direction board or using their phone to do the same. Their complete focus will be on driving the vehicle in the best possible manner.
  2. Obtain legal permission on medical grounds to install tints in the car. This reduces the sunlight penetration via the windscreen and the windows and makes it much easier to focus on the road while driving. These tints should however not be too dark since that can cause driving to be hampered at night. The tints are helpful for both the passenger and the driver in case they are suffering from Cataracts.
  3. Obtain legal permission based on medical grounds and install HD headlights in order to assist the individual while driving at night. HD lights provide better visibility in comparison to the default headlights that come installed in a car. These are often considered illegal in countries and special permission needs to be taken for them.
  4. Purchase cataract glasses for the affected individual. This helps them see better and protects their eyes against the bright lights in their surroundings. These are helpful for both a passenger and a driver impacted by Cataracts.
  5. Get the car interior modified with LEDs so that it helps the individual drive the car in the dark. 
  6. In case the Cataract is at a progressive stage then the individual should be a passenger and not drive the car.

For those with Muscular Degeneration:

Scenario Description

 

Muscular degeneration can impact individuals of every age. Its impact can vary from the twitching of muscles to completely being tied to a wheelchair. In either case, it can impact the mobility of an individual and the confidence they have in traveling on their own. Since this issue can show up in multiple ways, there is an effort required on the part of the individual to convey their need for assistance to their respective transport provider. 

Transport Service Booked: Limousine Service

boy in a beach wheelchair on the beach

Steps to make it accessible:

 

  1. The car should have officially approved tints installed in its windows and windscreen to avoid the direct sunlight from coming inside the car which could bother individuals with muscular degeneration since it can impact the eye muscles also.
  2. A foldable set of small steps for ease of climbing in the vehicle should be stored in the car
  3. The car needs to have bracket fixed to its side (sedan) or back (van) in order to lock a wheelchair, raise it a little with the portable lift and fix it in a seating position in the car
  4. The seating arrangement has to be modified by removing one seat (enough to make space for a wheelchair) so that if an individual is in a wheelchair it can be directly locked in position and they don’t have to get up to sit on the car’s seat. Metal plates with clips to hold the wheels of the wheelchair have to be fitted in the floor of the floor of the car with screws.
  5. Install mirrors with a panoramic view to prevent the additional effort required by the driver to look back or drive at blindspots.
  6. Alter the seating from being fixed to becoming rotational. This will result in the seat facing the driver at the time they want to sit in the car so they do not have to drag themselves into place sideways. In a rotational seat the passenger can just sit directly and then rotate it to face the front of the car (it can even be lowered to the ground if needed). In order to do this the seat will have to be removed and a rotating device will have to be installed at its base to provide the needed modification.
  7. The controls of the cars like the clutch, brake, accelerator, steering wheel and indicators should all be adjusted as per the height and reach needs of the affected individual. Macular degeneration impacts every individual differently which may cause minor to advanced modification being required in the car. 
  8. Install support handles and bars in the car, in addition to the ones already present. These are to be screwed inside the body of the car based on the driver’s height and need for support. These handles are a huge support in helping the driver get seated and disembark from their vehicle.

For those with Epilepsy:

Scenario Description:

Epilepsy is the occurrence of sudden seizures that can leave an individual void of any functionality for the time of the seizure. The aftereffects of the seizure can include heavy headedness and weakness in the affected individual. Traveling can become quite a horror for an epileptic individual if they are alone, and they suffer a seizure.

woman that has fallen down with her head supported by a man that is helping her up

Steps to make it accessible:

 

  1. Install a medical kit in the car that contains all basic and specific medicines needed to cater to epilepsy. 
  2. Install a microphone, speaker and a siren with official approval in the car to pave way in case there is an emergency.
  3. Ensure that medical services and a family member are present on the speed dial of an individual suffering from epileptic seizures.
  4. Apply a sticker on the car that states “Individual suffers from Epilepsy” so that other drivers are more considerate in terms of honking and using bright lights that can often trigger a seizure.
  5. Install highly comfortable seats and a deck to play soothing sounds to keep the individual in a calm frame of mind.
  6. Unless an individual has been free of seizures or its medication since a year they are not to be allowed to drive.

For Children:

Scenario Description

Driving or traveling with children can be hectic and demanding. Parents can get exhausted while traveling with children. At times the child may want to play at a time when they can’t or end up being stubborn about purchasing a toy. Parents traveling with children are always looking for ways that make transport more accessible to them.

baby sitting in a baby car seat with a pacifier in his mouth

Steps to make it accessible:

  1. Install illustrative screens with cartoons or animation at the back of car seats that keep the kids engaged while their parents focus on driving.
  2. If the kids is up to 4 years old then install a car seat at the back to make sure the child is fastened in a secure manner. The car seat should have a musical mobile or an interactive toy that keeps the kids busy while the parents are driving the car.
  3. Provide the kids with activity books in order to prevent them from distracting the parent on the driving seat.
  4. Pack all necessary food items, medicines and clothing that may be required for your child in order to prevent cutting short of your journey due to any of these reasons.
  5. Get the seating modified so that the children are able to lie down without falling down and get some comfortable rest.
  6. Ensure the presence of child lock on the back doors in the car in order to avoid any unfortunate event. 
  7. Childproof the locks and buttons in the car so that the children do not injure themselves in any way during the drive.

 

It should be ensured that no children are seated on the lap of the driver or the passenger on their adjacent seat in the front of the car. This can pose a very serious safety hazard for them.

Information About Using Grants and Funding for

Modifying Your Transportation for Accessibility 

There is an expense incurred in making transport accessible for those with disabilities and the aging population. However, it is not always financially feasible for the owner of a bike or car as part of a private transport service to make the required adjustment to make their ride accessible. The airports come under government authority, the airlines and large public transport organizations still have a larger pool of funds to use to make their respective transport mediums more accessible. 

The good news is that not all the financial burden falls on the individual or organization undertaking this initiative. There are many organizations and NGOs providing financial assistance in the form of grants to those who want to attempt to make transport more accessible for the disabled. One of the most well-known organizations in this area is the NADTC – National Ageing and Disability Transport Center. The organization believes in providing transport to the aging and disabled segment of the population that is in line with the ADA – American Disabilities Act and the relevant provision of paratransit. 

They think that people with disabilities and those belonging to the aging segment of the population should be involved in designing new transport mediums. Furthermore, there should be awareness programs for these individuals to inform them of the available mediums of accessible transport for them. They want transport to become as accessible as possible, and to make that possible, they are providing grants to those who wish to take this initiative. 

There are some basic and easy to implement steps that can be carried out to obtain a grant from NADTC. These include:

  1. Any application for the grant must contain a new way of making transport more accessible for the disabled and the aging population. 
  2. The timeline for implementation of the idea is six months from receiving the grant.
  3. The maximum amount available is $30,000 per project aimed at making transport more accessible.
  4. Public and private transport companies can both apply for this grant (local and regional).
  5. There is a timeline that needs to be followed for this application. It is similar every year. The timeline for the year 2020 was:

a. 4th March, 2020: The online portal started accepting proposal for the grant

b. 12th March, 2020: An online conference was held for potential applicants of the grant

c. 1st May, 2020: The deadline for the submission of application for the grant.

d. 15th June 2020: The announcement was made for the allocation of the grant to the selected applicants. Once this is done, they begin working on their respective projects with a six-month timeline.

6. The participants can look at the following steps to submit their application:

a. They need to visit the website for NATDC to click on the link to visit the request for the proposal page. This contains all the details pertaining to the application being submitted for the grant.

b. Once the applicants have gone through the guidelines, they should click on the link, which directs them to the application portal on the NATDC. Here they need to fill in all details pertaining to their project, the aim, what improvement it will result in, and how it will help in transport becoming more accessible to the disabled individuals.

c. The applicants must ensure all fields of the form are filled completely. Any incompletion can lead to the rejection of the application.

d. Submit the application by the given deadline on the NATDC deadline. Any delay in submission can result in the application not being accepted. 

e. In case the applicants have any questions, they can look at the FAQ section for grants on the NATDC website. It is an extensive list of queries that normally come up with the candidates.

Conclusion

Accessible transportation is all about acceptance of the fact that there is a considerable segment of the population that is disabled and needs better-equipped transportation. The next step is the inclusion of these individuals in the thought process when designing and developing transport mediums. There is a need for conscious effort on the part of companies to realize the rising need for accessible transportation and to use this to develop better transportation mediums for the disabled and aging population. 

It is unfortunate that this needs to be hammered into the heads of those incharge of developing transportation otherwise, accessible transport would have remained heavily neglected. At times companies and organizations do not even want to spend out of their own pocket to take this initiative. They often tend to rely on grants and funds to develop transportation mediums that are accessible for the disabled and the aging population. The question that arises is why is this particular area not considered important enough by corporations to spend money and make transport more accessible when at the same time, they spend a lot of money to come up with innovations in transport for non-disabled individuals. 

Alternatively, there are organizations like the NADTC who promote and fund initiatives aimed at making transport more accessible for the disabled and the aging population. Although such organizations and their initiatives are on the rise, there is still a need for greater effort in making transport more accessible.

Individuals suffering from any form of disability or belonging to the aging segment of the population need to be functional in their daily lives. They need to get their errands done, go to work, go for social gathering, and when in need, go to a hospital. They have as much right to decent, comfortable, and accessible transport as any other non-disabled individual. Therefore, all transport providers must make an effort to make their services much more accessible to those who are disabled or are part of the aging segment of the population. 

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