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Researching Accessibility Gaps in Transit Hubs Communication Systems and Standards

The National Center for Accessible Transportation (NCAT) at Oregon State University and the WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) are researching accessibility gaps within communication technologies used in transportation hubs and are identifying opportunities for universal and accessible design considerations within industry communications standards. This research effort includes coordination with emergency alerting initiatives deployed or in development at the national, state and municipal level, where communications interoperability challenges are a serious problem. The study is based on the following hypotheses:

  • There are significant accessibility gaps in the planning and deployment of communication technologies in transit hubs that place commuters and travelers with disabilities at risk.
  • Transit communication and emergency management personnel are often unaware of accessibility standards and specifications that apply to communication technologies.
  • Research into accessibility gaps within current and emerging transit hub communication technologies, practices and interoperability will contribute to the development of transit industry and federal/municipal policy criteria for accessible and universal design.
Research will document the state of communications technologies and practices, both in use and in development, identify the policies and workflows associated with information delivery, determine the transportation industry’s awareness and use of international standards for accessible interoperable communications technologies, and produce a gap assessment. Target populations for participation in research and for dissemination of reports include transit authorities, public and private agencies, federal state and municipal transit policy developers, federal, state and municipal emergency management agencies, standards organizations, consumer advocacy groups, and transit-related professional associations. Research results will identify areas needing further study and/or technical solutions and provide a framework for policy recommendations and consumer advocacy.