Why Stop at Step-Free Access?

31 October 2022

We need to go beyond Step-Free Access in order to provide accessible travel to everyone, everywhere.

From event spaces, parks and gardens, to transport hubs, public venues are more accessible than ever before. Great strides have been taken over the last couple of decades to make cities more open and easier to navigate, for everyone. Widespread accessibility options, and Step-Free Access, are developments that should be celebrated.

But when you see that a venue, such as rail or metro station, is ‘Accessible’ – what does that really mean?

Nine times out of ten, ‘accessible’ means ‘step-free’. So, if we take the example of the London Underground, an ‘accessible station’ will be one that focuses on the principles of step-free access. This can mean step-free from street level to the platform and/or train.

At Waymap, we feel that an accessible wayfinding experience doesn’t have to end at just adopting the principles of step-free access. Step-free accessibility can be expensive, not always available at every venue, and doesn’t serve the accessibility needs of every user that faces challenges when navigating. Accessible navigation can be so much more.

Extending beyond Step-Free Access

Step-Free Access has, of course, revolutionised the travel experience in urban areas for those with mobility issues. Whole venues, modes of transport, and city districts that may have once been inaccessible to many members of the public, can now be easily accessed as part of day-to-day life.

For example, 91 London Tube stations (a third of them), more than 60 London Overground stations, and all London DLR stations & tram stops have step-free access.

So, step-access is great. But it’s not always the perfect solution. When it comes to making stations (particularly those underground such as the London Tube network) step-free, the process isn’t always a simple one. Installing things such as a lift shafts can be an expensive and time-consuming. This can often put a strain on resources for the local governments and transport organisations responsible for this.

Further, their installation is not always practical or indeed possible, depending on the location. This is particularly relevant when it comes to older venues that were not built with future accessibility solutions in mind. Therefore, alternative accessibility options will often need to be considered.

The Full Navigation Experience

Accessible wayfinding, in public spaces especially, extends beyond the basics of guaranteeing step-free access. Accessible navigation solutions should provide benefits to the full spectrum of users whose disabilities impair their ability to easily navigate public transport, whilst minimising the costs and lengths of installation.

This is where a navigation app can provide many benefits to members of the public. Almost everyone now uses a navigation app in some form. They are essential to living in cities and using public transport.

However, they don’t work for everyone and don’t work inside for anyone. This means that people with disabilities, or even people with less confidence travelling, still feel excluded, need extra help and resources to make a journey or find themselves isolated at home. This is where the Waymap app comes in.

Improved Accessibility Using the Latest Technology

The Waymap app uses a breakthrough revolutionary algorithm enabling the delivery of accurate and reliable navigation instructions without external signals such as GPS,WiFi, or Mobile Data. Instead, we use the motion sensors already on the phone to help locate and guide our users round tricky-to-navigate indoor and outdoor locations.

With Waymap deployed, we know that people with disabilities have a much better experience on transport and are much more willing and able to use public transit systems instead of publicly-funded taxi services or private cars.

Therefore, the Waymap app has the ability to make a wide range of venues, all across the globe, more accessible to members of the public who have physical or mental impairments. The Waymap app can also incorporate Step-Free options into its navigation instructions if they are available. This will provide a more complete accessible navigation experience for anyone, anywhere.

Waymap in a Transport Location Near You

Step-Free Access is great. At Waymap, however, we believe that more is needed to be done to provide to open venues to those who currently feel excluded from them.

Interested in Waymap coming to a public venue or transport location near you? Please reach out via our contact form, drop us a message on social media, or sign up to our newsletter for regular updates on our progress!

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