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Report on Barrier-Free Accessibility at Rinkai Fukutoshin

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Report on Barrier-Free Accessibility at Rinkai Fukutoshin

The following is a report on barrier-free accessibility at Rinkai Fukutoshin by Ms. Nobuko Nagawasa and Ms. Masumi Matsumoto who have visually impaired sight.

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photo1: We walked from the Shiodome exit of the Shinbashi Station of the Yamate Line to the Shinbashi Station of the Yurikamome Line.

There are a flight of stairs and escalators to reach a ticket gate. However, visually impaired people only can reach the ticket gate by walking up the stairs, which have textured paving blocks to guide them to the ticket gate. If they would like to go by the escalators, they have to ask people where the escalators are. We wondered who decided it was best for visually impaired people to walk up the stairs.

We even can not find toilets. Any misleading information would make us lost in the crowd. As visually impaired persons, we would like to find out what is the best way to guide us smoothly to toilets.

We followed textured paving blocks from the Station. We noticed that the sound of our canes was somewhat different. It was a metallic sound, and the textured paving blocks were not discernible, making us confused. We would like to see uniformity even in textured paving blocks. We visually impaired people are always forced to make a detour, and can not enjoy basking in the sun. Even though it was early spring in March, it was still cold in the shade.

Since this area has been recently redeveloped, we had expected rationality. However, what we encountered was textured paving blocks that popped up all of a sudden, and guided us to right and left intermittently. Besides, materials of the textured paving block were inferior. We have a low opinion of the textured paving blocks. Concrete textured paving blocks made us tired. It would be hot under the scorching sun in summer. For us, Odaiba was full of barriers.

It is nice to have escalators and handicapped toilets at the stations, and sidewalks are wide and most of them are flat. We wonder if handicapped people in wheelchairs sense barriers the same way as we did. We question whether this area was planned properly.

Textured paving blocks were laid out for visually impaired people, but they were not discernible because the color of textured paving blocks was the same as the rest of the pavement. Everybody should be able to visit this area, we wonder what we can do for everybody to walk in a safe manner.

 
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photo2: Platform

It was nice to have textured paving blocks at the edge of the platform when we got off the train, but they did not extend to guide us further. Only at one location, textured paving blocks extended to the center of the platform. Following textured paving blocks at the center of the platform, we reached the stairs. We wondered why we were not guided to the elevator. We did not know whether there was an elevator at the Station.

 
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photo3: The Yurikamome Line does not have standardized elevator call buttons. Some call buttons say "Concourse" and "Platform," and the others say "Up" and "Down," making us confused and uneasy.

Locations of call buttons for help are at the center of each platform, and near ticket machines, and are standardized at each station. However, if you do not know where they are, they are useless. We came to know them by being taught so. If you know them, they are very useful.

 
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photo4: We encountered textured paving blocks all of a sudden. There were no textured paving blocks for us up to this point. It might be an effective way to let us know that something would happen beyond this point. However, for visually impaired people who are used to continuous textured paving blocks, a sudden encounter with textured paving blocks makes them totally confused.

 
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photo5: A tactile map showed us the entire area: how the Yurikamome Line ran, and how large this area was. We thought it would have been nicer if the map had showed buildings of interesting shapes. The tactile map was useful for us to understand the whole area, but we did not understand why it was located there. We wondered if any public organizations for visually impaired people were asked for their opinions as to the location of the tactile map. We wondered if any visually impaired person who walked alone could find this tactile map without any help. Besides, the tactile map was cold to touch. It is not nice to touch something cold because it is difficult to read braille if your fingers are cold. We would not feel like touching a tactile map if it was cold.

Message from a designer in charge of the tactile map:

We have many excuses. We did everything we could. We studied every aspect very carefully: differentiation of tactile senses, means of presentation, a relationship between tactile senses and images, means of making a legend, a sense of grasping space, and the like. We also consulted several authorities for their opinions.

What we know by know is that the most important thing is the early stages of planning and study of means of implementation.

We think that nobody really understands visually impaired people's needs, and there is no organization where we can ask any questions. We feel strongly that we have to ask various people for their different opinions.