Inclusive and sustainable mobility is an emerging need in the society, especially for the 15% of the global population with disabilities who face 15 times more challenges in transportation than non-disabled individuals.
Experts argue that for true sustainability, mobility must go beyond reducing emissions and ensure inclusion for all society members.
Empowering the Disabled through Technology
Jonathan Chacon Barbero, a Senior Accessibility Software Engineer & one of the few blind software engineers in Europe, believes in technology’s capacity to overcome limitations. As the person behind the accessibility menu of Cabify’s app, Chacon Barbero emphasizes the role technology can play in addressing challenges related to his condition.
The Challenges Faced by People with Disabilities
Barbero points out that the transportation difficulties faced by disabled individuals go far beyond physical barriers. Inaccessible vehicles, poorly designed infrastructure and unavailable or inaccessible journey planning information are just a few of the many obstacles encountered.
According to a 2022 UK survey, one in five disabled individuals cannot travel due to the lack of appropriate transport options & one in four cite negative attitudes from other passengers as a hindrance in using public transportation.
How Technology is Rising to the Challenge
Several public and private initiatives are employing new technologies to address the problem of universal accessibility. For instance, Lyon developed a public transport app using real-time data to assist disabled individuals. European startups like London-based Wayfindr is also contributing to the field with their innovative solutions.
Technology’s Role in Inclusive Ride-hailing Services
When Barbero joined Cabify, he first built a semantic basement for the app’s digital interface. This laid the groundwork for the addition of multiple accessibility features and disability profiles. By 2020, Cabify had launched its accessibility menu, making its app completely accessible for blind people. The app has since expanded its functionalities to cater to various groups such as the hearing impaired, individuals with cognitive disabilities and the elderly.
As of 2022, over 1000,000 users had activated at least one accessibility feature in Cabify’s app. This number has now grown to exceed 111,000 users worldwide. Interestingly, non-disabled users also find these features helpful in optimizing their experience.
Breaking Down Barriers
For Jonathan Barbero, the biggest challenge to inclusive mobility is the lack of societal awareness and acceptance of disability. He believes: technology is not the only that can facilitate most of the accessibility. The solution is integrating technology with people & creating a society that will not only recognize disability but also embrace it.