Saturday, 1 November 2014

Time to end the “game of chance” bus service for blind people


Getting off at the right bus stop is like "playing a game of chance", says guide dog owner Linda, about her experiences navigating the bus network without sight.

I got a chance to experience for myself why people with sight loss need audio-visual announcements (AV) on buses, through playing a memory game, at the Labour Party conference this week.

AV is essential for people with sight loss to live independently, yet only one fifth of the UK's buses have AV. Without AV bus passengers with sight loss have to ask the driver to remember to tell them when they have reached their stop.

I discovered a lot more about Guide Dogs' work learning that 7 in 10 bus passengers with sight loss have been forgotten by a bus driver. For a sighted person, missing a stop is an annoyance, but for someone with sight loss, it is potentially very dangerous.

Remembering the journeys at Guide Dogs' conference stand was a great way of emphasising how impossible it is for a bus driver to always remember to tell people when to get off. The Government has not taken action on this important issue - AV is such a simple and cheap solution and would ensure access for all to public transport that is so vital to people's everyday lives.

James White, Campaigns Manager at Guide Dogs commented:
"Guide dogs do fantastic work getting people out and about safely, and the lack of AV acts as a real barrier to their independence. That's why we're urging politicians like Graham Jones to call for the mandatory installation of AV on buses, something that is cheap to do."

AV doesn't just help people with sight loss – tourists, older people and infrequent bus users all find AV useful. Guide Dogs released their Destination Unknown report this September showing that nearly half of survey respondents said they would use the bus more frequently if it had AV.

Note to Editors

For more information about Guide Dogs and its Talking Buses campaign, contact Liz Marshall in the press office on 0118 983 8173 or liz.marshall@guidedogs.org.uk

The 'Destination Unknown' survey was conducted between February and July 2014. 2,009 people participated in the survey from across the UK. 989 responses were received from people who identify themselves as having a disability, including 818 respondents who are blind or partially sighted.