1 Introduction/background information
Singapore has implemented many measures to help people with disabilities integrate into the community in the last 13 years (Society for Physically Disabled, 2014). Visually impaired commuters travelling alone, however, are still having difficulties using public buses.
The two main problems faced by the visually impaired are knowing which buses are arriving at the bus stop and whether the buses that they are on have reached their destination (Singapore Association of the Visually Handicapped, 2017). Their predicament was reported by Spykerman (2016) - a visually impaired undergraduate had to alight many stops after her destination when the bus captain had forgotten to inform her and she had to wait for someone to assist her to go to the bus stop across the road to get to her destination.
Statistics on visual impairment in Singapore for gauging the extent of the problem is limited. An estimate derived using the study results of Wong et al. (2012) and the data from the Census of Population 2010 (Department of Statistics Singapore, 2011) showed that about 175,000 adults who are above 40 years old are visually impaired. This indicative number excludes children and adults below 40 years old. The number is likely to increase since "more people are at risk of age-related visual impairments as our population ages" (Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, 2017).
The anticipated rise in visually impaired persons warrants attention to ensure they are able to board the right public bus and alight at the right stop every time and all the time when travelling by themselves.
2 Problem statement
Visually impaired commuters travelling alone often face challenges with boarding the right bus and alighting at their desired stop. Technology such as mobile phone applications and voice-operated technology can be implemented to alleviate the problem.
3 Purpose statement
This report proposes ideas to the Land Transport Authority with the aim to enhance the commute experiences of the visually impaired and encourage inclusivity in the design of public transportation system.
4 Proposed Solutions
To enhance the independent travelling of visual impaired commuters, our team has proposed two solutions, smart bus stop and mobile phone application. With smart technologies, visually impaired commuters are able to commute easily. Features and functions of these smart technologies will be discussed below.
4.1 Use of mobile application
4.1.1 Features and functions
1. Visually impaired at bus stop says his destination to the voice-based apps (different common languages and dialects).
2. The apps taps on the bus information from the bus-stop to generate the recommended bus service based on fastest, cheapest and most direct which the visually impaired would choose.
3. The visually impaired would be alerted by the apps through voice (and even vibration if selected) when the desired bus is approaching.
4. The bus captain will also be alerted of a visually impaired passenger at the next stop through his dashboard.
5. The bus captain would alight at the bus stop to assist the visually impaired with boarding if there no one else to assist the latter.
1. Both the visually impaired and the bus captain would be alerted again (through their respective channels) when the bus is reaching the desired stop based on the computation by the apps using location positioning technology.
2. The bus captain would render assistance again as needed.
4.2 Smart bus stop
4.2.1 Features and functions
The smart features of bus stop include user interactive panel located in the bus shelter (see appendix A) and LED display screen installed on the bus stop pole (see appendix B). The interactive panel is a touchscreen LCD display monitor, which have both bus flagging and journey planner capabilities. The LED display screen informs the bus captain of the flag down bus that a visually impaired commuter is ready to board the bus.
For bus flagging function, user will be able to make selection of the bus services through tapping of the icon on the interactive panel. Once selection has been made, the interactive panel will prompt for a confirmation where the user would then tap the SG Enabled concession card on the card reader to confirm their choice.
Upon confirmation of the authenticity of visually impaired commuter, the audio speaker will sound off the selected bus service and the timing that the bus would take to arrive at the bus stop. Concurrently, the system will send the user’s selected choice to the LED display screen, where the bus number, together with an icon of visually handicapped person, will be flashed. This would inform the bus captain of the selected bus service to know that a visually impaired commuter would be boarding the bus, allowing him/her to render any assistance, if required.
Once the selected bus service arrives at the bus stop, the audio speaker will sound off the bus service number loud and clear that it has reached, informing the visually impaired commuter to get ready to board the bus i.e. “Bus 858 arrived, board the bus now.” Once the bus left the bus bay, the LED display will be updated again.
The lower part of the smart board shows the bus services information in braille, allowing the visually impaired commuters to find out the bus services available at the bus stop.
For journey planner function, the user is able to plan their journey to their destination via the shortest travelling time. The user first selects the journey planner application. When the interactive panel prompt for their destination, a button is pressed on the voice recognition microphone and the user will speak the destination into the system. The planner would then display and tell the user the shortest travelling route.