What We’re Reading: Inclusive Design

Author: Andrew Carpenter

Published: March 8, 2018

Older Adult Couple Walking in Park

NCMM wants readers to develop creative solutions to the mobility challenges that their communities face at both the collective and the individual levels. There are a number of avenues to follow in this effort, including funding, planning, and experience design that all add up to influence the greater mobility picture.

At the most foundational level, mobility managers need to make sure they include the people they hope to serve in their planning efforts. The experience and perspectives of any population are vital to the creation of effective solutions. Keep tools like this inclusive planning guide at hand to ensure the right stakeholders are involved in these processes from the start.

The negative effects of non-inclusive planning are visible in almost any community. It’s most striking, though, with the digital revolution. Considering technological advances are frequently billed as effective media to overcoming transportation barriers, it’s noteworthy that the groups who often most need improved transportation access, such as low-income residents, have largely missed out on tech-based mobility services, sometimes for reasons as simple as the fact that designers have assumed everybody has access to a smartphone.

In contrast, agencies that focus on leveraging the knowledge of target groups can reap the benefits of a much easier process along the way. AARP provides assistance in creating “age-friendly communities,” which ultimately benefit all residents, and Microsoft has recently launched Soundscape to help visually impaired pedestrians navigate cities. The latter shows the value of considering specific challenges people with certain disabilities may face, and working with that group to address those challenges in a way people will effectively use it.

An unfortunate side effect of ambitious designs for accessibility is cost. Luckily, municipalities have figured out creative ways to fund their programs, which Next City has begun profiling in its Bottom Line series to highlight creative funding for municipal projects that can inform readers and hopefully direct them to new revenue streams for their projects.

An overarching point of many of these points is an emphasis on the need to design around people and how they move. Just as it can’t be assumed that technology can reach all low-income residents who need it, other changes such as autonomous vehicles (AVs) can’t be assumed to save communities from the perils of motor vehicles. It’s only when people of many different needs are the focus in the development and use of these new tools, that they can become revolutionary changes in our mobility networks.

 

Image Credit: North Charleston, Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

We’d love to hear from you!

Have more mobility news that we should be reading and sharing? Let us know! Reach out to Andrew Carpenter (carpenter@ctaa.org).