Japan Railway & Transport Review No. 20 (p.24)

Feature: Barrier-Free Access to Transport
Information: ‘Instant Senior Citizens’ Discover Inconveniences of Stations

To experience the problems suffered by visually impaired and elderly passengers, Japanese Ministry of Transport officials and newspaper reporters transformed themselves into instant senior citizens in an experiment at Kasumigaseki Station on Tokyo's Marunouchi subway last February.
Ankle and wrist weights coupled with vision-obscuring goggles, ear plugs, gloves, and movement-restricting clothing soon helped them discover the difficulties of reading awkwardly placed fare tariff boards, and negotiating steep stairs and dimly lit platforms. One participant said, ‘I found myself unable to extricate the coins from my pocket, and I panicked so much that I dropped the ¥100 coin. It was torture trying to pick it up. I reached the platform at last. Because it was difficult to tell where the platform ended, I tottered along, making sure to keep close to the wall and wishing the platform was better lit.’
The Ministry will take the lessons learned from this hands-on experiment into account when it introduces a system next year for rating major stations in terms of user-friendliness for disabled and elderly passengers.

Photo: Experiencing the difficulties of buying a subway ticket
(The Daily Yomiuri)

This article is based on information published by The Daily Yomiuri on 4 February 1999.