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Evelyn Reid

Subway Safety for the Blind

By November 4, 2008

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Back in my university days, I had the unique and rewarding opportunity to work on a research team with a mandate that, if I had to sum it up in twenty some words or less, aimed to improve the quality of academic life for students with disabilities, ultimately hoping to influence public policy matters of disability and accessibility in general.

One team member -- who effortlessly kicked my butt when it came to execution speed and efficiency -- was legally blind and he used to loathe the Montreal Metro system. He told me he never felt safe walking on the platform and he consequently rejected the subway altogether.

So I couldn't help but wonder ... will yesterday's announcement that the STM will be equipping 14 Metro station platforms with ridged tiles be enough to convince him and other reticent visually impaired Montrealers to jump on board?

Then I looked at the said 14. Not one of the stations are central and/or downtown locations. Zero metro stations serving Montreal's four universities are on the list. And apart from the Quebec Foundation for the Blind at l'Assomption Metro, the closest stations to Montreal's major organizations for the blind are nowhere to be seen: the Montreal Association for the Blind at Vendôme, the Montreal chapter of the Canadian National Institute for the Blind at Peel and the Regroupement des aveugles et amblyopes du Montréal Métropolitain at Berri-UQAM, all metros that happen to also service three out of four Montreal universities. Even the metro station closest to the organization the STM approached for feedback on the warning tiles, the Institut Nazareth et Louis-Braille in Longueil, is not among the chosen few.

On the bright side, the STM cites this initiative to be but a beginning, with plans to equip every metro station with warning tiles. In comparison, the Journal de Montréal wrote that going beyond the chosen 14 is dependent on Transports Québec, suggesting with a "but" that funding may not be forthcoming.

Regardless of spin, does anyone understand the logic of Monk Metro getting priority over a major subway artery like Berri-UQAM? Why did the STM choose decidedly uncentral stations for Phase One of a project that will extend "over the next few years"?

In the know? Please enlighten me by email or leave a comment below!


November 7, 2008 at 1:25 pm
(1) Jacques says:

I wonder what their reasoning was … do they share any analysts with the group that selected the new Montreal logo ?
Why is there not a joint publicity piece (also sent to Evelyn) with the logic & timing of such initiatives.
I think ALL Montreal committees & organizations should be sending notices like this to you so you can bring the whole story directly to anglo-fun Montreal.
Perhaps “they” should consider engaging Evelyn as a bilingual consultant to help assess the impact of such initiatives on the targeted group(s) as well as the effect of the publicity on the overall population (esp anglo/allo).

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