I spotted some new map symbols on a Victoria Line train this week - I'm not sure if they're new or have I just not noticed them before. Can you see them?
There's a new symbol for, essentially, 'a little bit accessible'.
It's a blue wheelchair on a white circle, instead of the more traditional white on blue.
The blue ones that we're used to are few and far between on the Underground, as they mean completely step-free access from train to street, which obvisouly makes them 'wheelchair accessible'. The new white circles mean 'step free access from platform to street'.
I'm assuming this is to do with the Paralympic Games coming to town, but I hope it's something that we keep afterwards. It seems completely sensible to recognise that not everyone with an 'access need' requires fully step-free access, but maybe they'd appreciate the extra advice on which of the other stations would be most appropriate for them.
I've always been a bit uncomfortable with the wheelchair symbol as a generic disabled access indicator, but up to now at least it has usually meant 'suitable for wheelchairs'. If we're going to use one symbol to denote all kinds of access arrangements, do we need to consider changing to a more appropriate symbol, or some sort of gradient?
In digital accessibility the AA/AAA system seems to work reasonably well, but too often I think we still revert to thinking that 'accessible' sites are just the ones that work for blind people. That's kind of like the 'step free from train to street' of the internet; blindness.
I'm not suggesting we shouldn't be putting virtual ramps into all of our projects, but what about everyone who just wants a little bit of help?