The MTA Tap and Go System Enhances Accessibility for all Riders

Text on image reads the mta omny tap and go system enhances accessibility for all riders. The image below the text shows an entrance to a subway station in New York city.
The photo of an NYC subway station is by ShonEjai via Pixabay

The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority is currently upgrading its payment system to a tap and go contactless system. This allows riders to pay their fare by simply tapping their card or mobile phone on a designated reader. It will also work with smart watches. Learn more about how the technology works here.

This is a great step towards improving accessibility. The MetroCard that is used now has to be swiped and inserted in a certain direction. I have low vision and on days where I was rushing to catch a train I could easily get confused on which way to insert the card.

This upgrade will speed up the process for everyone. Those with mobility issues would just have to swipe their smart watch.

Swiping a card does add extra time and now being able to simply tap and go will cut down the time it takes to enter the turnstyle or paying the fare in a bus.

Here is a demonstration of how the MTA OMNY system works.

The MetroCard will only be accepted until 2023. Then it will go the way of the token.

I have not been able to try this but I would definitely like to try it when I get an opportunity.

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Spotlight: Traveleyes – A Unique Travel Experience for People who are Blind or have Low Vision

Text reads a unique travel experience for those who are blind or have low vision. There is a photo of Parlament, the palace and big ben in england below the text.
Photo of the palace, Parlament and Big Ben in England is by derwiki via Pixabay

*This post is not sponsored by Traveleyes*

Do you enjoy traveling? Do you find your loss or lack of eyesight to be an obstacle to travel, or has it made travel less enjoyable? Well, today i want to spotlight a company that offers a unique travel experience to people who are blind or visually impaired. 

Traveleyes provides independent group travel for people who are blind or have low vision. The unique aspect is that each group is made up of a mix of sighted and blind and visually impaired individuals. The sighted participants help to provide sighted guide and to describe the sights. There is a 50% discount for sighted participants. This allows those who are blind or partially sighted to travel independently without having to rely on family. 

Traveleyes handles all of the details including the entire itinerary.  Click here to learn more about how it all works.

I have not used this service myself but I hope to be able to do so in the future. I would love to visit England one day and other places as well. Individuals, couples and small groups are welcome. I think it is important that this allows a person who is blind or has low vision to travel independently because they do not have to rely on family or friends to travel and they can go on their own schedule. I know my family would probably not want to fly all the way to England or other far off destinations. This service would give me an opportunity to travel on my own. It is also nice to know that the sighted individuals want to contribute and help guide and describe the sights as they agree to this when signing up for the trip. I would not feel like I was asking for too much or feel like a burden when asking for descriptions or for sighted guide. I think this would make the vacation much more enjoyable for me. It is a great benefit that sighted participants get a discount because they offer a very helpful service. 

Click here to learn more about the destinations you can explore with them.

I should add that you should check the site to find out when the tours will be taking place as the pandemic has changed travel rules.

So if you feel safe enough to travel again or when you do feel safe enough you should look into Traveleyes.  I hope to take part in one of their travel tours one day.

(A) Accessibility (#AToZChallenge 2021)

The blogging from a to Z challenge letter A graphic is on the image. The text below reads accessibility how restaurants entertainment and websites can become more accessible to those that are blind or have low vision
Blogging from A to Z April challenge letter A graphic can be found here.

When you are blind or have low vision it can be complicated to make your way through a world that is built for sighted people. It is a common feeling to feel out of place. I am here to say that although it is hard at times it is not an impossible task. The first point that should be addressed on this journey through a sighted world for a person who is blind or visually impaired is the aspect of accessibility. Here are some ways that society can make things more accessible for people that are blind or have low vision.

Restaurants 

There are several ways that restaurants can become more accessible to people that are visually impaired. First, they should have accessible menus. A menu in braille and a large print menu should be frequently updated and made available. It is also important to have an accessible website with an up to date menu as some visually impaired people prefer to refer to the site to access the menu. I am visually impaired myself and I prefer to look at the menu before I arrive at the restaurant. 

Menus4All is a good resource for restaurants to make their menus accessible.

Second, restaurants should try to offer seating areas that have the option to increase lighting. Low lit areas can be challenging for some people that have low vision. I am one of those people and I think that having adjustable lighting options in select seating areas would be helpful.

Third, restaurant management should train their staff on how to best assist a visually impaired person if necessary. The staff should be trained on how to provide sighted guide if it is ever needed and have a basic understanding of what it is like to be visually impaired.

Entertainment

Movies, TV shows, plays and even concerts and sports broadcasts can be made accessible to those that are blind or visually impaired by including audio description. Audio description is the narration of all the visual aspects of a scene such as the clothing characters are wearing to a detailed description of the scene. This helps to fill in the gaps that the dialogue will miss and helps provide a full experience of the show. Accessible show programs in braille and large print should be provided where applicable.

The Internet

The internet has become the gateway to all of the information for all aspects of life. It is very frustrating when a website is not fully accessible. Every site should be compatible with screen readers, they should offer the option to change the color contrast and they should be designed to be used with enlarged text. These points apply to apps as well. 

Some extra thoughts

These tips can be applied to any industry. I hope that accessibility can become more common and that there will be more education on the need for accessibility in all aspects of society. Everyone can play a part in making this world a more accessible place.

You can learn more about the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge here. Come back each day this month except on Sundays to read my next post for this series. Thank you for reading.

People with Disabilities still Battle Discrimination when it Comes to Using Uber and Lyft

City street with cars in traffic – Photo by free-photos via Pixabay

The arrival of Uber and Lyft have helped to fill the gap when it comes to the lack of transportation but people with disabilities have been left to face discrimination when it comes to this form of transportation.

Wheelchair users and those that are blind or have low vision are most impacted due to a lack of accessibility and understanding. This article explains how challenging it can be at times for a wheelchair user to get an Uber or Lyft. It can take more than twice as long to get a ride for a wheelchair user.

Those that are blind or have low vision and use a guide dog also face discrimination. There have been many complaints of drivers canceling the ride when they realize the person has a guide dog. Here is one example.

People with disabilities must have equal access to these ride services. They are protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

I want to continue to bring awareness to this issue because drivers need to be educated on this topic. I think that a solution could be to have a category that riders could select that would identify them as wheelchair users or that they have a guide dog. Drivers could sign up to a category that accepts dogs and the same process for wheelchairs. There has been legal action taken regarding this issue and there have been some improvements but more can be done.

Let us all continue to battle discrimination against people with disabilities.