‘Collision of Concepts’
Peter is a strong self-advocate of persons with reduced mobility. Not all problems have a digital solution; the transport sector in particular needs sufficient and trained staff – among other things – to ensure persons with reduced mobility can fully enjoy their right to freedom of movement.
“Even if we are lucky enough to move into older age (80s) in reasonable health, we are by definition PRM (Persons with Reduced Mobility). Most of us lose some of our acuity, some of our manoeuvrability; we sometimes just mishear without being deaf. Many acronyms are meaningless to us! So it is an interesting path to old age even without an actual illness! Of course any of these conditions can apply to any age, proving once again that the solutions we seek lead us to the need to “design for all” because indeed “all” benefit.
There is what I choose to call a “collision of concepts“. There is on the one hand the blinding faith of today’s management that the solution to all problems lies within (IT) Information Technology which running alongside the constant theme of saving on staff costs to meet economic or profit related targets causes the almost surreal transport world without staff in which only disembodied voices or automatic machines prevail.
This “collision” means for the older persons that they are unsure and often unwilling to venture out and remain in their homes, which is bad for their health and indeed bad for the economic future of a world with an increasingly large number of older people within it.
I have two messages, firstly to the providers of transport, to those organisations responsible for Bus, Coach, Train, Ship and Air travel with some simple requirements.
- Staff who are visible and available to offer advice and reassurance;
- Signage and information that is clear and unambiguous – in places and at times that people need it so we know where we are going;
- Lighting that allows us to see our way without fear of falling ;
- Design that enables us to find what we are looking for quickly and easily and without confusion – whether the departure gate or the station platform
And above all:
- Managers and staff who have been trained to understand the needs of older and disabled people and who want to get it right.
My second message is to the EU directorates and local politicians because quite frequently excellent schemes, sensible needed regulations are allowed to suffer many months of delay. Most of these important factors are accepted and agreed throughout the European Union through the various working groups. But implementation is still slow.
A delay of 18 months in a process is often viewed as quite acceptable. Not quite so acceptable if you are 85 years old! Older and vulnerable people want to see some urgency as these delays are an effrontery to our Human Rights.
Everyone will benefit because if older people have inclusion we are not tomorrow’s problem we are a big part of tomorrow’s future.”
Peter Rayner is AGE Platform European mandated representative for the revision of the Technical Specification for Interoperability for Persons with reduced mobility. He is also a Fellow of the Institution of Railway Operators (FIRO) and chairs the Accessibility and Inclusion Forum for the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT).