Seats for disabled passengers

An interesting post by Áine Pennello in CityLab discusses how disabled passengers may find seating on public transit.  There is often not enough seating for everyone, so the matter of who sits becomes an important issue. 

A social contract applies.  Some seating is formally designated for disabled passengers.  Informally, seated people are expected to make way for others who are obviously in greater need.

However, some passengers who need seating are not obviously disabled.  One solution, now being tried by Transport for London, is to have such people wear special badges that say "Please offer me a seat", accompanied by the well-known logo of the London Underground.

This system has the virtues of being straightforward and is analogous to the use of special tags for people who park their cars in spots specially designated for disabled drivers.

However, this solution can be socially technostressing in the sense that disabled commuters may not want to call such attention to themselves.

To address this issue, Liz Jackson of New York City has proposed a scheme that shifts the onus on able-bodied passengers.  Under her plan, able-bodied passengers who are willing to give up their seats will be asked to wear a special broach.  A disabled person can ask for the seat with a subtle expression such as, "I like your broach!"

This scheme has the virtue of relieving disabled passengers of the stress of drawing constant attention to themselves.  It also relieves them of the stress of facing a refusal. 

An important challenge would be getting enough transit riders to wear the broach.

Which approach is the better one?  Or, are both flawed in some way?

Courtesy of Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons.

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