TIME 4 weeks in 2021   SKILL Service Concepting, Experience Prototyping   PARTNER Access for All Ireland   TEAM Ashleen Nee, Glen Forde

A disability awareness system for public transportation

Planning a journey on public transport can be a challenging, particularly for those with physical and learning disabilities, older people, as well as families. A service design solution shall help to facilitate dignified and equal travel for everyone on public busses. 


  • Designing for prioritising different public transport passengers with additional space requirements
  • How might we inform bus passengers on the variety of user priorities to enable better decision-making regarding the appropriate use of space?



  • 3 project phases of Discover, Develop and Deliver
  • Bodystorming, Service Safari, In-depth interviews with non-abled people
  • How-might-we questions and ideation workshop
  • 2 rounds of low-fidelity prototype testing 


  • Service concept of a disability awareness system for Dublin Bus
  • Video showcasing the service concept and its main components of signs, patterns and sound system 
  • Pilot plan outlining further steps for implementation


Phase I · Discover

The research

Service Safari

To better emphasise with issues of an everyday journey on public transportation as a non-abled person, we were exposing ourselves to the situation.

Over the course of 5 hours, we used trains and buses on the local transport network as well as the associated services. 
It should be noted that the method can in no way reflect the real experiences of people with disabilities, but it can be seen as a helpful approach to the topic.

Empathy interviews

To validate the identified problem areas, we listened to personal stories from non-disabled people about public transportation usage. To get a comprehensive picture, we also conducted interviews with people who work in public transportation, such as tram and bus drivers.

The sensemaking

Research synthesis · Affinity mapping 

Phase II · Develop

Ideation workshops

In our research synthesis, we identified nine different challenges in the area of barrier-free access to public transportation.

To cope with the amount of How-might-we questions, we sought support to sketch out initial ideas. Two workshop sessions with a total of 24 participants served to exchange ideas and discussions.

publictransport Picture 4

How might we ...

inform bus passengers on the variety of user priorities to enable better decision-making regarding the appropriate use of space?

We have decided to focus on one of the problems identified, namely the different priorities for passengers with additional space requirements.

When traveling by bus as a wheelchair user, there may not be enough space on the bus to board. The interviewees reported from their experience that it often happens that baby carriage users or people with heavy luggage block the area intended for people with physical disabilities.


To tackle that specific challenge of different user priorities in buses, we developed a concept storyboard. 

On the basis of several sketched ideas, we created a storyboard visualising the idea of using various elements for highlighting designated areas in buses for different passengers.

publictransport Picture 113 (1)

Experience prototyping

To help test participants to immerse themselves into the idea, we have created an experience prototype.

By assigning the roles ‘wheelchair user’, ‘buggy user’ or ‘non-disabled passenger’ to the participants, we were able to determine whether the designated areas on a bus were understood and used correctly.

The tests found that areas need to be more clearly marked and that the type of sound plays an important role in ensuring that passengers do not feel exposed and that they are told what to do in an understandable way. 

Phase III · Deliver

Final concept video

Service Video 

Concept elements

‘Less Pace, More Space’ is a disability awareness system.

It uses textured patterns, light and audio to indicate designated bus areas for users with specific needs on an Irish public bus system. 

The awareness system is designed to accommodate bus users with disabilities both physical and invisible, as well as buggy users and to educate all passengers about the prioritisation of travel space.

publictransport Picture 105 (2)

Service blueprint · Future state

Project partner feedback 

‘It’s a wonderful concept and one we would love to see Dublin bus engage with.’

– Access for All Ireland

We have presented the concept to the leaders of ‘Access for All Ireland’, who are committed to barrier-free accessibility in public transport. They promoted our concept idea to Dublin Bus.

Pilot plan

publictransport Picture 114

© Linda Klotzbach 2024

© Linda Klotzbach 2023

© Linda Klotzbach 2024