The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) has launched a new initiative to make traveling on COTA easier and more accessible for autistic and neurodiverse customers. COTA has partnered with Magnusmode to deliver a digital app providing tips and lessons to help COTA customers plan trips, pay fares, board buses, ride and transfer. The five unique COTA digital decks are free to download in the MagnusCards digital life skills app.
“We are excited to introduce this digital tool to make COTA more accessible for anyone who needs to get to jobs, school, healthcare, food or entertainment across central Ohio,” said Sophia Mohr, COTA’s chief innovation and technology officer. “MagnusCards is a new step toward bringing transit to our neurodiverse customers but also an ideal way to enable new customers to use COTA’s service, regardless of their abilities.”
The MagnusCards app uses visual cues, step-by-step instructions and optional audio in either English or Spanish to guide users through the transit process.
“Accessible transit opens the world up to the autistic and neurodiverse community, offering the freedom of greater independence through travel and we’re proud to work with COTA to provide these MagnusCards decks in this community,” said Magnusmode Founder, President and CEO Nadia Hamilton. “COTA is among the first transit agencies in the United States to introduce MagnusCards to its ridership and serves as a leader in making Columbus an inclusive place to live and a model city for how communities, companies and services can improve access to services.”
Magnusmode and COTA worked closely with Bridgeway Academy, a Columbus, Ohio,-based private school for children and young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities, to test and use the decks so the students could receive real-world experience boarding and using COTA buses. Feedback from students and teachers at Bridgeway was also utilized to fine-tune the COTA decks.
“We are happy to help COTA develop these decks that assist people like our students,” said Abigail David, co-founder and co-CEO of Bridgeway – Academy & Therapy Center. “We believe this will bring dignity through mobility access to many of our students and others in the community, as they will be able to travel more independently throughout the region with COTA.”
While designed for members of the neurodiverse community, COTA says MagnusCards can also be used by neurotypical customers who are learning COTA’s system and would like a visual and audio tutorial.