Information, including the dissemination of information in electronic format, is an important part of the service provision in connection with passenger transport by bus, train and railway. This is especially true for emergencies, but is equally important for all passengers to have an equal access to services on board the means of transport, be up to date on what is going on and have good access to general information in connection with the journey.
To achieve this, it is important to provide universally designed solutions for the companies’ websites and information in several formats, including destination instructions, dissemination of information on board the means of transport, such as speaker and on screen, real-time information and more. Information in an emergency is of course central.
Also, information conveyed through mobile applications is an important area of universal design.
Passengers may have different challenges in perceiving oral or written information. With regard to communication and communication from the service provider (carrier, sales agent, etc.), the solutions must be able to be used by passengers with, for example, impaired vision and hearing, cognitive impairments and other, or lack of alternative forms of communication, such as those that depend on interpreters. It is therefore important that bus and train companies provide relevant and understandable information, and good contact opportunities with the practitioner of transport services through different communication channels and in various formats. Passengers should also have access to alternative contact channels, such as text message, online contact and personal contact.
8.3 Requirements for different types of information channels
Information and communication include signs, various types of information materials and information and communication materials. Universal design is essential for all passengers to have equal access to the information provided.
Types of information communicated can be departures, arrivals, how to buy a ticket, general information and the like. As part of this, passengers, using information dissemination through various formats, will have access to information about the journey, about alternative contact opportunities to contact the company responsible for the transport. When a company is to acquire ICT services, for example in connection with the design of its own websites, or digital dissemination of information, etc., universal design shall be part of the contractual basis, in accordance with regulations.
To ensure that all passengers have equal access to information, one should ensure that:
- Information is provided in alternative formats,
- Information presented in writing is provided with clear fonts, fonts, pictograms and symbols, and has good contrast against the background,
- Information that is presented on signs has luminance contrast between signs and backgrounds and between text and background of at least 0.8. For example, if a sign is placed against a light background, it should have a dark background with a white or dimmed text color[i],
- it should be possible to get all the way to the sign, one should therefore make sure that no things are placed in front that can lead to clashes,
- the letter height of the sign is at least 25 mm,
- information on the signs is concise and easy to perceive;
Figure 38: Braille and Raised Tactile Letters Sign (Photo: Universal Design AS)
- signs are well lit and do not give glare,
- smaller amounts of text are designed with raised tactile letters, possibly also with braille,
- symbols are used where possible,
- monitors are glare-free, with a dark background and light font, and should not be placed so that there is a strong backlight from, for example, a window,
- and that the information on monitors is easily visible to passengers from different places in the means of transport.
8.4 Information and communication technology
Websites and mobile applications used to communicate travel information and other relevant information must comply with requirements for universal design in accordance with the Regulations on universal design of ICT. These regulations currently require websites to meet 35 out of 61 success criteria in the Guidelines for Accessible Web Content (WCAG) 2.0. Difi has an overview of the success criteria in https://uu.difi.no/krav-og-regelverk/wcag-20-standarden, and a guide on how to work according to the WCAG requirements.
Following the requirements is important because many passengers with disabilities today use the internet both on desktop and through mobile applications, many with connected technical aids. If the design of the software and hardware solutions does not comply with universal design requirements, passengers will be barred from being able to access the information regardless of assistance from others.
Responsible for the companies’ websites shall, in order to ensure universal design of the website, ensure that:
- the pages are neat and clear;
- text has the right code and structure;
- there are other ways to verify than the use of captcha;
- it is possible to customize the pages;
- there is a distinction between content and structure;
- if there are videos on the company’s website, that it is subtitled;
Clear language is used on the website and that if information provided on websites refers to other information, this shall be limited to what is absolutely necessary and in a clear way, with a direct link. Alternatively, requirements may be met through the dissemination of the information in another format, for example through sound.
8.4.1 WCAG requirements
There are currently many practical tools for verifying that websites comply with these requirements, such as WCAG 2.0 and WCAG 2.1 minimum requirements (see https://wcag.difi.no/) which in Norwegian is called the Guidelines for Accessible Web Content (https://www.w3.org/Translations/WCAG20-no/). The WCAG 2.1 requirements (see https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/) will form the basis for the Norwegian implementation of the EU Grid Accessibility Directive, which enters into force in Norway 1 July 2019. Among other things, it is important to be able to use keyboard navigation as an alternative to mouse arrow navigation, and that the web pages should be able to work with various forms of technical aids such as braille display for the visually impaired.
According to WCAG 2.0s, the most important minimum requirements to keep in mind when designing a web solution are:
- The user must have a text option for non-text content. For example, a picture or figure should be accompanied by explanatory text.
- When the content of the website is presented as video or audio, the user should have an option to receive the information, such as text.
- If the website has a video with audio, the user must be able to assess subtitles.
- Coding must show what a content is, and things like columns, headlines, etc. must be encoded as what it looks like.
- Content must be presented in a meaningful order.
- Instructions must not depend solely on shape, size, visual location, orientation or sound to be understood.
- Presentations should not be based solely on colour. This is so that people who cannot perceive colour or information that is rendered as colour should have equal access.
- Sound that starts automatically should be paused or be paused by the user.
- The contrast ratio between text and background must be at least 4.5:1.
- It should be possibe to resize text to 200% size without loss of content or function. This allows visually impaired people to have the same access to the information in the text by adjusting the text size.
- Rather than images of text, text should be used. This is partly so that the content can be rendered on a screen reader — an image of text cannot be read by the blind.
- All functionality should be usable by using a keyboard. This is because due to various disabilities, many users cannot use mouse pointers to hit links, navigates and other functions, but prefer to use commands through the keyboard.
- Avoid keyboard traps.
- Time limits should be adjustable by the user.
- The user must have the ability to stop, pause, or hide content that automatically changes.
- Content should not flash more than three times per second.
- The user should be given an opportunity to jump directly to the main content.
- Page titles should be useful and clear. They should give a clear idea of what is the content of the page.
- Content should be presented in a logical order.
- The objectives and function of all links must be clearly stated in the link text. This means that one should avoid using, for example, individual words such as “here” to indicate a link, but use sentences that make up the link in its entirety and also show what it contains, such as “read more about train tickets on this page”.
- The user should be able to choose from several ways to navigate.
- Prompts and headings should be descriptive.
- All content should have visible focus when navigating with a keyboard.
- The language of the content on all Web pages should be specified in the code.
- All parts of the content on a web page that are in a different language than the rest of the page should be marked in the code.
- When a component comes into focus, this should not automatically cause significant changes to the page.
- Changing the value of a form field should not automatically change the page.
- Navigation links that are repeated on multiple pages should be in a consistent order.
- When elements have the same functionality across multiple pages, they should be designed equally.
- For errors that are automatically detected, you need to show where the error has occurred and provide a text description of the error.
- Prompts or instructions appear when you have form elements that need to be filled out.
- If errors are detected automatically, the user should be given a suggestion on how to correct the error.
- For pages that incur legal obligations, it must be possible to undo, control, or verify the data submitted.
- All pages should be free of major code errors.
- All components have names and roles determined in the code.
[Source: Norwegian Digitalisation Agency]
Several enterprises are available in Norway that assist in controlling web pages against universal design requirements.
8.5 Mobile applications
Many mobile applications and tablets are today as important a platform for internet-based services as computers. These are also covered by the requirements for universal design of grid solutions.
The rule is that there are requirements for universal design if the application in question has to download up-to-date information – for example about timetables – over the internet to work. Such applications are web solutions. For without route planners, examples are mobile banking, ticket purchasing features, weather forecasts and more.
Applications are software that is designed to run on smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices. Applications are becoming increasingly widespread and are popular for many users with disabilities due to the fact that they are easy to use as long as the solutions are well universally designed. They are often a supplement to, or replacement for, websites accessed through data.
When it comes to domains, universal design requirements include all types of domains, including foreign ones that target the general public in Norway. This also applies if the company’s website is located on a server located abroad, if the website is aimed at the general public in Norway.
The EU Web Accessibility Directive requires mobile applications to be universally designed by June 23, 2021 in the EU. The Directive will also apply in Norway, see also Appendix 1.
Figure 40: Mobile applications are an increasingly important part of information and communication technology (Photo: Universal Design AS)
Another part of ICT that is relevant for ferry and speedboat transport is vending machines. Vending machines include ticket and payment machines, validation machines, food and beverage vending machines, information machines and others.
Different passengers have different challenges with using vending machines, due to vision, movement, cognitive challenges, hearing or other factors. Therefore, vending machines, to ensure equal access for all passengers, must comply with requirements to be universally designed. This applies to four main areas: location – that is, being able to find the slot machine; how the machine is mounted – that is, being able to reach the vending machine; operating area and surroundings – i.e. being able to approach the machine, for example with a wheelchair or walker, and final use of the machine – being able to understand menu, buttons, choose between different uses, regardless of functional ability.
8.6.1 Automat placement
The following requirements apply to the good placement of an automat, whether at the station or stop or on board trains and buses in connection with the infrastructure.
Vending machines are positioned so that they are easy to find and use, regardless of the time of day or light and weather conditions.
Vending machines should be clearly marked with signs and lighting. The lighting from the monitor and keyboard of the vending machine should be at least 500 lux. For the area around the vending machine, 200 lux is sufficient lighting.
Signs are placed above the machine and be visible from all angles, regardless of the height of use.
This means that a vending machine located outdoors should be easy to find for passengers regardless of the weather or time of day, daylight or darkness, etc. It is carried out through good signage and lighting as mentioned in the requirements, but also through good use of guide lines up to the vending machine, possibly with the use of sound. See 3.3.13 for more information.
8.6.2 Advent to vending machine
Access to slots shall be universally designed to ensure equal opportunities for all users of the slots.
The road to the vending machine should be without obstacles, and the surface up to the machine should be step-free, flat and stable.
8.6.3 Operating area and surrounding area around the machine
The user should be able to use the machine either from the front or from the side. Wheelchair users should come all the way to, or be able to have their legs under the vending machine. The precondition for this is that there is a free height between the lower edge automatic and the ground/floor of at least 0.67 m, at a depth of 50 cm.
If the machine is located in an area with a lot of noise or background sound and it conveys sound-based information, it should have a loop or other aids for users with hearing loss. Other options may be outlet for earbuds.
The operating height for automatic buttons should be between 0.8 and 1.2 m. If information is only to be read on screen, it may be higher positioned but still readable from the sitting position.
Instructions and warnings should be construed by everyone and placed where they are used.
If two or more slots are next to each other, there should be at least 1500 mm from the middle of the slot to the middle of the next slot to ensure the possibility of simultaneous use of the slots.
The Norwegian Digitalisation Agency has prepared a guide for universal design when deploying vending machines: https://uu.difi.no/krav-og-regelverk/veileder-utplassering-av-automater.
 See also https://uu.difi.no/krav-og-regelverk/kva-seier-forskrifta.
[i] See the Norwegian Blind Association’s website for signage requirements for the visually impaired to have equal access to information: https://www.blindeforbundet.no/universell-utforming/skilt.