Starting in February 2012, the Masil (‘outing’ in Korean) Group, composed of ten experts and persons with a disability (including physical, visual and auditory perceptual disabilities), has been working on creating an obstacle-free public transportation environment for the disabled.
Out of the eight original candidate locations, the group narrowed it down to three including Seoul Forest, the National Museum of Korea, and Seoul Station. After conducting on-site surveys, they finally chose the access road to Seoul Forest from Ttukseom Station as a place to work on right away. The on-site surveys of the three locations required the experts and disabled group members to travel on public transportation and walk on sidewalks to reach the final destinations.
To improve access to Seoul Forest, the city government has decided to redesign the sidewalk to make the following improvements: (1) to expand the width of the sidewalk; (2) to make improvements at the bus stops between the station and Seoul Forest; and (3) to replace the barriers on sidewalks with ramps. The government will also reflect the needs of visually impaired citizens, including the installation of tactile ground surface indicator blocks and the elimination of all types of barriers on the sidewalk. For the hearing impaired, the city government will enhance the visual traffic information provided en route to the final destination.
The sidewalk improvement project will be the first case of ‘transportation-disadvantaged’ citizens getting involved in the whole process of a project, ranging from selecting and designing a site to building and maintaining it. Such deep involvement in a project by public service recipients is expected to have minimized trials and errors as well as improving the overall traffic conditions for everyone in the city.