Monday, December 12, 2005

Adaptive Technology - Accessible Design

The everyday object that I chose to redesign is the NYC MetroCard. In particular, the six ride $10 card, the one I buy and use. The main flaw of this card, and the card system as a whole, is that there is no way of knowing how much value a card holds. This is true with all the value cards available, as well as the unlimited ride cards. Unless you have a good memory and are adept at math, you can only guess at how many rides or days are left on your metrocard. Sure, you get reminded every time the card is swiped, but don't we have enough to keep track of in our lives? And if you're visually impaired? As they say in NYC: "fugghedaboutit!"

The only thing about the current metrocard that is adapted for the visually impaired is the slice taken out of the lower right corner. This helps orient the card for correct swiping. Other than that, there is nothing else to help a sight-challenged rider (or anyone else for that matter) know anything at all about the cards, other than an expiration date (which isn't relevant when it comes to monthly cards.)

This redesign solves the "how many rides problem" by both showing the original dollar amount of the card, and the number of trips the card provides. The number of rides are printed on the right side, and are notched out every time the card is used to enter the system. When you begin, you have 6 rides and no notches; when the card is dead, you have no rides and 6 notches. In addition, I have placed a notch at the bottom of the card to assist in differentiating between 6-ride, weekly and monthly cards. Each one can have a unique shaped notch (in my example, a half-round) or a unique combination of shapes (for example two half rounds, or a triangle.)

While I was at it, I decided to update the look of the cards. While my graphic design does not assist the visually-impaired, it does help celebrate a little bit of New York's transportation history and in the process refreshes the MTA brand.