Universally Designed cities need to be walkable cities, where pedestrians can easily and safely access goods, services and social actives. Unfortunately, many cities were not designed this way. The Hindu, an Indian newspaper has launched a “Right to Walk” campaign in Chennai, a large city in the south of India, to address the city’s unsafe and inaccessible footpaths. High curbs and a lack of curb cuts are a common problem, but so are broken and missing pavement, manholes left open, cars parked on footpaths and other obstructions blocking the path of travel. These conditions make footpaths unsafe for people who are blind, inaccessible to those using mobility devices, and force pedestrians to walk on crowded roads, a dangerous practice that can lead to accidents. The paper covers these issues, and also encourages readers to send in pictures of problem areas, with the hope that the publicity will help motivate officials to address the problems. A slideshow of reader images shows that many problems where quickly resolved after being featured in the newspaper. This wonderful project could easily be replicated by other communities in order to push for safer, more accessible sidewalks and footpaths.
Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) is a consulting and research firm, specializing in user experience and usability. NNG conducts research on design trends around the world, across industries, companies, and user types. They have a number of publications that provide simple design guidelines that anyone can follow to improve user experience and usability, including reports on user centered design methodology and reports for special audiences like senior citizens, children, teenagers, college students, and users with disabilities.
The report “Beyond ALT Text: Making the Web Easy to Use for Users With Disabilities” is offered for free on the NNG website.
LookTel, which came out with the Money Reader app last year that helps the visually impaired accurately count money, has come out with a new app using the same technology to help people with vision problems to identify common objects.