Most New Yorkers rely on the subway to get around the city everyday, but Richard Van-LaRusso can’t. This is because he has a visual impairment that makes it very challenging for him to travel on the subway.

“I’ve always been legally blind, had vision in my right eye. But about 10 years ago, my vision started getting very blurry,” Van-LaRusso said. ”And since that time, it’s kind of been a gradual decrease.”

When Van-LaRusso does take the subway, his normal commute is from where he lives in Midwood Brooklyn to his internship at the Brooklyn Center for the Independence of the Disabled (BCID) in Downtown Brooklyn. Van-LaRusso, 67, encounters challenges from the moment he walks into the Avenue M elevated subway station on the Q line – the station closest to his home.

Because of Van-LaRusso’s low vision, it’s hard for him to use the vending machines to refill his MetroCard and check his card’s balance. He has to go to the station booth and ask the attendant for help. Then, Van-LaRusso has to travel up two flights of stairs to the platform, where he has to contend with crowds flowing in both directions. Once Van-LaRusso reaches the platform, he struggles with finding where the train car doors open.

Van-LaRusso also doesn’t use the subway often because he has trouble navigating routes he’s unfamiliar with. This is because larger stations have complicated layouts and don’t have clear directional information for people with visual impairments.