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Summary of Discussion with GO Transit

Saturday, April 1, 2006


Issues are presented in no particular order of importance as each one is a major concern for transit riders who are blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted.

  1. Access to automated ticket kiosks: The automated kiosks which are, in some stations, the sole means of purchasing a ticket, pose several barriers for persons who are blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted. First of all, party tickets, which allow an attendant to ride for free, cannot be purchased from these kiosks. The second problem is that of kiosk accessibility-none of the kiosks are speech-enabled, which prevents people who cannot read print from using them. The first problem could be resolved if there were a special card which could be issued which would allow a blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted rider to purchase a party ticket from a kiosk. The second problem could be resolved with the implementation of text-to-speech technology for the kiosks.
  2. Assistance to and from trains: Blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted passengers who are travelling alone may require a guide or, failing this, realistic, specific travel directions from the ticket counter to the bus or train platform. At this time, this service is not provided, and it has caused passengers to miss their train/bus or be forced to ask fellow passengers for assistance. It is, we believe, simply a matter of providing the appropriate customer service to all passengers, to minimize travel stress for all.
  3. Implementation of accessible signage and wayfinding systems: At this time, there are no Braille, large-print or tactile signs of any kind which are accessible to blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted travellers. Tactile signage, including Braille, should be positioned consistently throughout the corridors (for example, above handrails on stairways, indicating to which track the stairway leads), so that blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted people could easily locate the signs. There are also no floor-level wayfinding systems, such as tiled pathways, which could serve to guide these passengers to their destinations. Instituting verbal train arrival and departure announcements at stations such as Union Station would extend access to information currently only available to passengers who can read print. Knowing which track is being used for which train would greatly assist blind or partially sighted passengers, who are now required to ask fellow travellers for this information.
  4. Although there is a designated Accessible Car on every train, where there is extra assistance and better access, a blind, deaf-blind or partially sighted person would not necessarily be able to find it in time to take advantage of these features, due to lack of accessible signage.
  5. Membership on Go Transit's external Advisory Committee: AEBC would be pleased to participate on this committee. Please let us know how and when we may nominate someone. We would welcome the opportunity of sharing our views with the broader advisory community in hopes of improving travel for all Go riders.
  6. Exclusive use of PDF files on web site: At the time of our meeting, all Go Transit documentation was only available in secured PDF files which could be downloaded from the web site. Due to the way in which screen-reading software handles PDF files, this security feature prevents the screen-reader user from reading the documents. AEBC members passed the following resolution at our 2005 Ottawa Conference: “Resolutions 2005-24
    Whereas, Portable Document Format (PDF) continues to provide barriers to blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted people and their enabling technologies;
    Therefore, be it resolved that the AEBC advocate that PDF not be used as a standard for providing documents on all web sites, and that AEBC support the use of HTML as the standard for displaying web content.” We have been successful in obtaining any documents in usable PDF that we have requested since then, but there should be no need for a special request.

Respectfully submitted by: Marcia Cummings, John Rae, Judy Whitelaw and Phil Wiseman

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