Auckland Transport and Qrious tackle accessibility issues for visually impaired customers

Auckland Transport and Qrious tackle accessibility issues for visually impaired customers

Automated programme communicates travel and balance details of AT HOP card to visually impaired customers

ID 100381548 © Corners74 |

ID 100381548 © Corners74 |

Credit: Dreamstime

It’s an example of how we use new technology in a clever way, to make the solution work for groups with specific needs

Nathalie Morris, Qrious

Auckland Transport aims to make public transport accessible, easy and affordable for everyone.

While the AT HOP card has made travelling around Auckland simpler and more affordable, the agency was cognisant a certain sector of the community - the visually impaired - had specific issues in using the card.

These customers were finding it hard to read the digital balance displays on buses and trains. They also had difficulties logging into and using the AT HOP online portal because the content was not optimised for screen readers.

Thus, visually impaired users were unsure of how much money was on their card, or if they’d tagged on or off correctly. This could lead to mis-tags or being caught out with low AT HOP balances.

This was the business driver behind Auckland Transport's automated programme that communicates travel and balance details to visually impaired customers.

Nathalie Morris, CEO at Qrious, explains that the project came about when Qrious was working with Auckland Transport on an automated personalised communications around the HOP card for the general population.

“As a result of that, they were looking at the particular needs of this section of the community -  the visually impaired.

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“It is an example of how we use new technology in a clever way, to make the solution work for groups with specific needs,” she tells CIO New Zealand.

She says her team worked closely with Auckland Transport to create a centralised and secure database to send user and travel information to the UbiQuity platform.

The teams then developed accessible email and TEXT templates using clear, scripted language that would make sense when read out loud by a screen reader.

Users could choose whether they received emails or TXT updates, and whether they got these daily or only when they had traveled or topped up their account.

Templates were designed to make them able to be read by screen readers in a way that made sense for the recipient, and easily navigable in line with accessible guidelines.

Nathalie Morris
Nathalie Morris

“It was a really interesting project for our team, we had to ensure we were fully across how we made the communications accessible,” says Morris.

“There was  lot of thinking and research that our team put through on how we could make these communications work well for the visually impaired population.”

She cites an example: “Our team was interested in understanding how an email will work well with a screen reader.”

“They were thinking of things like including the telephone number in an email. How do we format it so it reads out as a telephone number rather than ‘three thousands one hundred twenty three?’”

“The approach of really understanding their specific needs and working with people from the target group, thinking about how each test can be applied to create a better customer experience for them, is something that we like to work through with our clients," says Morris.

“This project was a huge challenge for us, not just in terms of working through the data, but also ensuring the email templates and language use was right,” says Kash Chitnis, AT HOP campaign manager.

“The team at Qrious were great at working through these challenges with us, asking the right questions to get the right results. And the customers are just thrilled with it.”

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Tags usabilityaccessibilityAITransporttextdata scientistAuckland Transportspecial needsubiquitycxQriousSpark New ZealandinclusionNathalie MorrismobilityUX. emailvisually impaired

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