Passengers with sight loss struggle with bus services
Dorset people living with sight loss are missing vital appointments because they have difficulty travelling by bus.
In an effort to make bus travel less difficult for its members Dorset Blind Association is backing a campaign to introduce audio announcements on buses to indicate bus routes, destinations and next stops.
“For people with sight loss properly accessible bus travel is vital to help them maintain independent and active lives,” says Dorset Blind Association chief executive officer Jonathan Holyhead.
“Audio announcements on all bus services would make a massive positive difference and all bus drivers would benefit from visual impairment awareness training, so they know how difficult life for people with sight loss can be and through that become more empathetic to the needs of those passengers.”
The Road to Nowhere survey conducted by Guide Dogs found 80 per cent of people with sight loss say they are unable to enjoy the freedom that others take for granted because they find travelling by bus so difficult. The organisation is now calling on the Government to legislate in favour of Talking Buses to make life easier for passengers with sight loss.
Almost three quarters (72 per cent) have been put off visiting friends and family, while almost two thirds (65 per cent) have missed out on social occasions like birthday parties.
The survey also revealed that being excluded from bus travel has a knock on effect for the health and employment prospects of people with sight loss with more than one in three (35 per cent) saying the prospect of travelling by bus had put them off attending doctors or hospital appointments, 34 per cent had been made late for work and 14 per cent said it had prevented them from taking a job.
There are other financial implications as nearly one in three blind and partially sighted people spend up to £30 a month on taxis rather than take the bus.
“We call on the Government to regulate to ensure that all buses are Talking Buses,” saus Guide Dogs chief executive Richard Leaman. “We also urge local authorities and bus companies in England to use available funding to fit more buses with audio visual technology for the benefit of all passengers.”
Dorset Blind Association helps up to 1,000 blind or partially sighted people each month. It receives no regular government funding for this and relies heavily on donations, grants and legacies. To help it call 01202 712869 or visit www.dorsetblind.org.uk or send a donation to 17 Bournemouth Road, Lower Parkstone, Poole , BH14 0EF.
For more information contact Jonathan Holyhead, chief executive officer of Dorset Blind Association on 01202 712861.