There are many devices, devices and elements that have to perform the task of adapting space for the needs of people with low mobility. Among them, mnemonic devices, a means of navigation and orientation in space for persons with visual impairments, have a special place. Mnemonic schemes belong to the group of tactile accessibility elements of TEA (DBN 2.2.40-2018, Section 8).
Mnemonic schemes are not new in Ukraine. On the contrary, their number on various types of facilities is growing exponentially. But the problem is that the relevant products (as well as many others in the field of accessibility) in 90% of cases are ordered, manufactured and installed on a formal basis. In other words “just to have them” … In order to show them during various inspections, media or abstract human rights activists, who, without understanding the nuances, record the presence or absence of certain accessibility elements without reference to the needs of a particular user.
What is a mnemonic scheme? It is an ordinary navigational scheme adapted for the visually impaired. The key word here is ADAPTED.
What kind of mnemonic schemes exist in Ukraine today? They are the usual evacuation plans, all adaptation of which consists only in presenting information in a tactile form. No one is particularly concerned about whether a blind user can understand or navigate by touch. No one is particularly concerned about whether a visually impaired or a visually impaired user will be able to use the diagram or navigate through the diagram.
Today the situation is beginning to change, thanks to the Resource Centre “Barrier-free Ukraine”, which in Ukraine is one of the leaders in the development and implementation of the concept of accessibility for the needs of the disabled and now has no competitors for the quality of its tactile informers.
The very concept of mimicry production approach is changing. Or rather, the concept does not change, it is aimed at a single possible end result.
The first attempt of the new approach implementation was realized at “Sviatoshyn” underground station in Kiev. It has been repeatedly noted that Svyatoshyn underground station after the overhaul is one of the few in Ukraine, which is almost fully accessible and safe for various categories of people with disabilities, including people with visual impairments.
One of the important components of the integrated accessibility of the station is a new mimicry made in a fundamentally new format. What is the new approach?
First of all, a navigation map must be developed, that is, a map that can be understood by any user and with which the user can easily and quickly obtain the necessary information.
Then the scheme has to be adapted. In our case – for the visually impaired. That is to use different types of colours for different types of objects, to work out the size and format of flat fonts, and adapt the result in tactile and Braille.
Again, the key word here is ADAPTIZE. Not to fulfill (copy) the TOTAL tactility of the flat-printed version, but to develop the principle of tactile navigation and orientation with the help of an appropriate scheme. Accordingly, a tandem of a designer, a visually impaired person and a specialist who understands the issues of orientation and mobility in space should work (and has been involved) here. No other way of introducing real accessibility is possible, if we say we want our own accessibility provision rather than accessibility reporting.
For Svyatoshyn metro station specialists of RCBU (Resource Centre “Barrier-free Ukraine”) developed and produced three types of mnemonic schemes by their purpose:
- platform orientation,
- vestibule orientation,
- orientation on the underground passage exits.According to various estimates, the respective mnemonic schemes generally perform their functions, but, as it was, it was only the first attempt to introduce exactly this type of mnemonic scheme.
Now the developers understand what exactly, in what direction and in what format it needs to be improved further. And very soon, users at other stations of the Kiev underground (Syrets station is the first among them) will be able to use convenient and improved versions of the navigation schemes for visually impaired – both for the blind and visually impaired.
A little about us: POG Resource Centre “Barrier-free Ukraine” is a company of professionals who have been working for over 12 years in the organization of socially significant objects of various means and equipment for the safety and comfort of movement of people with low mobility. We give the opportunity to move for any person, regardless of his/her physical features. The aim of our work is “Inclusive Ukraine – accessible to everyone!” And the main direction of our organization is an individual approach to the adaptation of the environment for people with low mobility.