For people living with disabilities, and beyond: accessibility benefits all

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L’accessibilité des transports, gagnante pour tous

According to the World Health Organization, 15% of the world’s population lives with a disability. That’s roughly 785 million people, while 20-40% of people living with disabilities in high-income countries do not have their everyday needs met. These statistics remind us that when societies prioritize inclusiveness, everyone wins. But there is still work to be done. Only 24% of countries worldwide have legislation to prohibit discrimination against people living with disabilities.

There are countries making great strides, however. In France, CGI and JobInLive are working toward implementing  life-changing ideas with La Handitech, a foundation devoted to supporting startups, schools, institutions, partners, labs and investors committed to developing disability-focused innovations. By considering the hurdles people living with disabilities face on a daily basis, the private and public sectors can work together to envision ideas and craft solutions to benefit society as a whole. At the Movin’On Summit 2018, CGI’s Laurent Gerin and Magali Fabre hosted a working session on innovations in favour of people living with disabilities and loss of autonomy.

 

Ramping down the roadblocks

As Magali Fabre pointed out, designing transportation without thinking about accessibility first can make people miss the point. Trying to adapt plans to integrate people living with disabilities is more work than thinking of it from the get-go. Participants at the Movin’On Summit 2018 put their heads together to consider the roadblocks people living with disabilities encounter on a daily basis, and proposed some solutions:

 

Challenge

Solution

 

Some people with disabilities have difficulty going out and may be more inclined to stay at home.

 

A virtual reality program that allows users to visualize their destination—be it a subway station, a mall or a restaurant — and plot their route ahead of time.

 

Many people with disabilities are often isolated, and may require a monitoring system to check their vital signs daily.

 

An interactive object users could carry around with them everyday, which would not only be able to communicate but could also monitor the user’s heart rate.

 

Some people with disabilities may require regular help with menial tasks, which could result in feelings of guilt or dependency.

 

A matchmaking app that pairs able-bodied people with those with limited mobility to help them carry out various tasks, from shovelling their driveways to sweeping their floors, or accompanying them to go out for a coffee.

 

Not all public or private spaces are equally accessible to people with disabilities, which could prohibit them from visiting new places.

 

A Waze-style app that maps out routes for individuals with limited mobility, helping them plan ahead when visiting a destination for the first time.

 

Working it out together

La Handitech is an association whose mission is to federate, coordinate and promote all the actors who innovate or support innovation in the service of people with disabilities or loss of autonomy. For a second year in the fall of 2018, they handed out Les Handitech Trophy, A prize that rewards innovation in accessibility. Among the winners this year is Streetco, the first pedestrian GPS adapted to the movements of people with reduced mobility. You can browse the list of winners on their website.

 

Nino Robotics: put the person forward

Also at the Movin’On Summit 2018 as part of the Movin’On Startup Challenge, French startup Nino Robotics presented mobility devices design to boost the user’s self-esteem and help them want to leave the house more often. It’s easy to see how everybody wins when all members of society feel valued and share their skills and point of view.

 

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