Easy-to-read in Public Transport – Practices in the Vienna Region Evaluated

Easy-to-read in Public Transport – Practices in the Vienna Region Evaluated


Christian Vogelauer, WU Vienna, Elmar Fürst, WU Vienna


Easy-to-read measures are an important part in the provision of text and spoken announcements. The paper is going to present the findings of a research project in the Vienna Region on the implementation of Easy-to-read in the public transport system.


Social integration besides other factors depends highly on the ability to get in contact with other persons, be it virtually or physically. To allow for such direct contact, one has to have the ability and possibility to leave the home and travel for some distance – i.e. one needs to be mobile. Therefore mobility can be seen as an integral part of enabling social inclusion and interaction.
However, there are some groups exhibiting limitations in their ability to use the publicly provided mobility services due to physical or mental impairments. One of these hindering factors is the ability to read written information or to comprehend spoken announcements. The groups mainly affected by those delimiting circumstances are cognitive impaired. There are, however, other groups who are affected by overly complex visual or acoustic messages, namely migrants and tourist. They often do not speak local languages; in addition, tourists also suffer from limited amounts of time, to get familiar with practices and conventions, negatively influencing their travel experience if bad communication causes problems during their trips. To a lesser degree, also the mobility of sight and hearing impaired persons as well as children and seldom drivers is deteriorated by unfavourable communication.
A solution to this problem in public transport systems is provided with the approach of easy-to-read information design. Thereby, texts and spoken announcements are structured in a very straightforward way, thus providing the most essential information, while leaving away any unnecessary addenda.
Building on existing research, literature and experts interviews, we evaluated the information provided in the public transport system in the Vienna region for its accordance to easy-to-read standards put forward by various organisations. This investigation included textual information at stops and stations, in vehicles as well as on the websites of the relevant transport companies. Furthermore, acoustic announcements throughout the system were recorded and checked for the understandability of their wording and other contextual factors.
The proposed paper will firstly replicate the principles of easy-to-read information design and discuss the benefits when employing them for the various target groups. The main part of the article will then present the results of the qualitative assessment of the current situation in the Viennese public transport systems. Eventually, we will propose options for the improvement of the current situation where applicable as well as implications for other public transport systems – and beyond.


Association for European Transport