'It's a big step': Laval launches public transit app for people with intellectual disabilities
MONTREAL -- For people with autism or intellectual disabilities, getting around by public transit can be a daunting task.
In response, the Société de transport de Laval (STL) Laval has created a new app to help guide people with very specific instructions.
At the Montmorency metro station in Laval, there are dozens of bus stops and destinations and, for some, finding the right route can be overwhelming.
Ingrid Falaise’s 14-year-old step-son has autism and needs some extra help to get around.
“For him to get from point A to point B, he has to be accompanied by someone because he just can’t do it alone,” Falaise said.
The STL is now using the Compagnon app to help some of its users. It creates detailed instructions on how to get to a destination and even tracks a rider so if they go off course a family member can be notified.
“The trips are pre-programmed, they’re very personalized for each user. We can edit every step that the user makes, you can add pictures,” said Kevin Machabee, STL innovation and partnerships advisor.
“When you’re in the bus it gives you the number of stops left before getting off. Before the last stop it tells you to ring the bell.”
The program is being offered to 25 users so far at a cost of $150,000 per year. The minister for Montreal hopes it can be rolled out in other cities and to more people in the future.
Guy Bibeau, director of the Intellectual Disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder and Physical Disability Program at the CISSS de Laval, said, “we see a lot of possibilities for people who can use this app.”
People, for instance, who suffer from memory loss, people who are visually impaired and might need voice prompts.
For those with family members who have disabilities, one of the most important aspects is to help develop autonomy.
“He’s getting to have more self confidence,” said Falaise about her step-son. “He’s just like everyone else and can take public transit by himself. It's a big step.”
For her, it’s the first part of the journey towards his greater independence.