Most of us rely on public transport for our daily commute, and for most of us, easy and accessible travel is an expectation everywhere we go. Unfortunately, not everyone has equal access to public transport and accessible routes. For many people with a disability, encountering barriers that inhibit their ease of access is a daily challenge.
There are 14 million people in the UK living with a disability, making up 20% of the total UK population. In the UK, those with disabilities take 38% fewer trips than those without, and one in five disabled people are unable to travel due to lack of appropriate transport options.
This project was an incredibly important one for me. My younger brother is a wheelchair user, and through my experience as a carer and sister, I have witnessed first hand the barriers that wheelchair users face daily, and how these issues impact their lives. This truly hit home last summer on a family holiday to Paris. In a strange city with a language barrier and little to no information on accessible travel routes, getting from point A to B became incredibly difficult.
Accessible transport is an essential aspect of every individual's independence and personal freedom, and much more should be done to maximise the accessibility of public transport. But through providing information on level access routes and creating increased visibility of obstacles, Levelway aims to make accessibility, accessible.
A huge part of the process of Levelway has been the research. As an able bodied person that has no personal experience travelling in a wheelchair, I am limited in what I can achieve without drawing on personal insights from real life people. So, from the get go, research has informed every aspect of the application and every major decision right down to the branding.
Initial research began with creating surveys and looking at widespread data on transport accessibility to affirm a need, both locally and throughout the UK. Additionally, I conducted competitor analysis of existing apps and services to identify a gap in the market.
From here I began to look deeper into exact needs and requirements. I conducted user interviews with a wide range of people to gather a deeper understanding of their experiences. Once I began to identify patterns, I completed some card sorting exercises to categorise the issues that were raised and began to visualise how these problems could be tackled. These solutions would begin to form the main pieces of functionality seen on Levelway.
Research did not stop here, once an initial low fidelity prototype was developed, I began to run usability tests with users to identify any issues as early as possible. This enabled me to iron out any issues and apply any necessary changes to the hi-fidelity prototype, before testing this version again.
Every decision I have made has been informed by my own research and no decision has been taken lightly. As a result of this, I feel completely confident in my decisions and know that every aspect of this project has been well informed by real life experiences.
People that use wheelchairs encounter a range of problems when planning trips or simply trying to make their daily commute. There is incredibly limited access to information around accessible transport, and many wheelchair users encounter a range of issues that completely inhibit their ease of access. Levelway aims to tackle some of these issues through the main pieces of functionality; search, bookings and report.
Search: Search allows the user to have full visibility of level access routes tailored to their wheelchair type and any specific needs they have. This includes bus, train, taxi and wheeling routes.
Bookings: Bookings gives users the ability to plan ahead and book accessible tickets across all types of transport. Same as search, they can tailor journeys to their exact needs but bookings allows them to reserve these seats in advance.
Report: Report is an essential part of the Levelway community. It allows Levelway users to report any issues they encounter whilst travelling. These reports will flag up on any impacted routes and will also be fully visible on the reports page. Users can also keep track their report status.