Wayfinding and inclusivity in Mexico

November 7, 2022
Erica Miranda Brito
4 minutes

Accessibility in Mexico is the exception and not the rule. In 2020, the percentage of people with disabilities represented around 6% of the total population. Despite all the efforts to build inclusive transportation. Navigation for people with a visual or a walking impairment is still a privilege. The goal is to set solutions that allow all individuals to navigate independently, safely, and effectively.

In this article, we will analyze and explain the issues in terms of accessibility and transportation in the country.

Understanding the dilemma

First of all, we find the partial or total lack of accommodations for people with disabilities in public areas. Some of the essential physical elements we should encounter in the cities are ramps, tactile pavings, clear signage, and audio support. According to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, we estimate that 77% of Mexico’s streets are inaccessible to wheelchair users

Secondly, even if the requirements for inclusive transportation are satisfied, they do not consider user experience. We talk about fake inclusivity and compliance by checklist. One of the main goals of public transport is to create the most efficient way to get people to their destinations. However, many of these solutions are not effective and may turn into a hassle.

“Although it would be easier to follow the tactile paving, I could still navigate without it since I am pretty familiar with the route. However, if I tried to find the tactile pavings on purpose, I might make detours, and it would also be just a waste of time and effort.”

Many other users claim that they have stopped using tactile pavings to navigate through the subway because they feel insecure due to previous accidents. We evidentiate that many projects presented as inclusive do not meet the specifications and requirements.

The images below illustrate the most common situations we encounter.

In addition, another major factor is the continuous negligence of the local authorities. This happens when the accommodations were implemented but the maintenance was neglected, making the solutions pointless. One example is the hundreds of elevators that have stopped working and have never been fixed. Many times, the budget designated for these measures does not cover their maintenance. It is the uncertainty and inconsistency of the solutions that make them untrustworthy.

VIM is an organization that teaches people with disabilities to navigate through obstacles and rough spaces. The organization shows up as a solution for the poor management and distribution of the city. It gives individuals the necessary abilities to access a world that is not compatible with them.

Nevertheless, how have we come to believe that people with disabilities need to adapt to us? Should they consent to the unacceptable conditions they are forced to live in? It’s time for us to evaluate how we can accommodate for the benefit of us all and the role that we should play in this change.

Finally, the lack of interest and ignorance in the public sphere is one of the main reasons for the lack of inclusivity. It is crucial to educate the public about accessibility. No change can be done without our contribution. For instance, many people struggle to take advantage of the accommodations because the general public does not respect the norms that follow them. For instance, obstructing tactile pavings and marked crosswalks. To what extent is our ignorance a form of violence?

Implications of the lack of inclusivity

One of the main consequences that people with disabilities have to face due to a lack of accessibility is the scarcity of opportunities. Finding a job that suits their needs and supports transportation, it’s almost out of the question.

Socioeconomic status also determines accessibility for this sector of the population. Only the people with the economic resources can allow themselves to pay for special vehicles on a daily basis. And it’s this same demographic that tends to live in the most inclusive and accessible neighborhoods.  

Inclusive design not only opens new opportunities, but also encourages us to acknowledge diversity.

In conclusion, wayfinding in Mexico, as in many other countries, is far from being inclusive. Understanding the causes of this behavior may help us evaluate and find a way to transition into a more accessible society. For this, we need to start by associating accommodations as a fundamental human necessity and not as a second priority.


All images are linked to their source

  • (Foto portada: Dogan Kutukcu/Getty ImagesFoto de redes: Leonidas Santana/Getty Images/iStockphoto), and Redacción Obras. “Ciudades Que Los Ignoran: 77% De Las Calles De México Son Inaccesibles Para Personas Con Sillas De Ruedas.” Obras, 12 July 2022, https://obras.expansion.mx/infraestructura/2022/07/12/calles-mexico-inaccesibles-silla-de-ruedas.                                                                                                        
  • Shuchang Xu Key Laboratory of Pervasive Computing, et al. “Virtual Paving: Rendering a Smooth Path for People with Visual Impairment through Vibrotactile and Audio Feedback: Proceedings of the ACM ON Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies: Vol 4, No 3.” Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies, SIGCHI, 1 Sept. 2020, https://dl.acm.org/doi/pdf/10.1145/3411814.                                                                                
  • http://www.tlahuac.cdmx.gob.mx/15-construccion-y-mantenimiento-de-puentes-peatonales-2/


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