Hands holding accessible sign

Is Japan the Most Accessible Country?

7 Apr 2017

Traveling to another country can be a nerve wracking experience for even the most seasoned adventurers. Now imagine doing it with a vision and hearing impairment. Recently Cristina Hartmann did so while spending two and a half weeks in Japan, the last destination on her 4-month trip around the world.

Woman with a Scarf Drinking Coffee

She tells her story on the Accessible Japan website, explaining how her experiences there proved Japan had the most accessible infrastructure of all the countries she visited. Let’s take a look at some of the features that helped her navigate the city with ease.

In Tokyo, yellow tactile strips lined with bumps adorn subway stations, tops of stairwells, sidewalks, and most major public areas, acting as a guild for her and helping to keep her to the left with the flow of traffic while navigating busy areas. These strips also led to exits and ticket kiosks. Although she struggled with the confusing layout of older city infrastructure, these strips were there to guide her along safely.

Any city with a grid system was easier for Cristina. She noted Sapporo in particular with its more modern and spacious subway system. She also pointed out that beer cans in Japan are adorned with braille to point out the contents of the can. Although she didn’t know Japanese braille, it’s a unique feature that would certainly make life easier for a visually impaired individual.

Overall she found these accessibility features in Japan helped her experience a new culture with ease. Cities have a long way to go before being accessible to travelers with visual and hearing impairments. Luckily we’re moving towards a future where different aspects of everyday life are becoming more accessible, and Cristina’s story is proof of that. We’re glad to see so many individuals are coming forward to share their inspirational stories.