Monday, January 16, 2006

A self-fulfilling prophecy

You sometimes hear access naysayers make comments like "I never see anyone using (fill in the blank for an accessible feature here)." When you're talking about transportation systems, my standard rely is "I'm not surprised" when that access is well short of universal, as it so often is. Take a train line into a major city. If a person in a wheelchair can only get on or off a train at say three stations out of 16 don't expect use of that line to be good by people with disabilities. People with disabilities have places to go just like everyone else. Chances are those destinations don't line up with those three stations most of the time. So instead of a number of disabled people using the line that might go to any of the destinations on the line you at best get the number of disabled people using the line that are interested in three destinations. The inability for the disabled to fully use the system becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for low ridership. A survey by Access for All Alliance, an Australian disability advocacy group, seeking to define the problems faced by the traveler with disabilities reinforces this point. The alliance's Sheila King points out a finding from the survey so far is that "a large percentage (of the disabled) haven't taken holidays because of inaccessible transport." Not because they aren't able. Not because they don't want to. Not because they do not have the means. But because transportation is inaccessible. As long as it remains so, or only partially so, it will appear that such improvements aren't needed "because you never see disabled people travel." But findings like the one cited above show the latent demand.


Post a Comment

<< Home