Tom Brake, MP for Carshalton and Wallington, met with Guide Dogs at the Liberal Democrat Conference to learn about their Talking Buses campaign.
Here, Tom learned all about the real struggle of visually impaired people to navigate the bus system. The Talking Bus campaign seeks to ease some of the stress that the visually impaired who use the bus system feel, by promoting the use of audio-visual announcements (AV) when buses make stops.
Guide dog owner Linda, describes this experience as “playing a game of chance” when it comes to getting off at the right stop. 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 the vision impaired, it is potentially very dangerous.
Commenting on what he learned about the Talking Buses campaign, Tom said, “Having AV in our community is essential when some of our stops are so close together, like the Elgin Road and Stafford Road (Woodcote Road) stops on bus 157. 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.
“We are fortunate in having extensive AV in London, but elsewhere, AV systems are frequently unavailable.”
While AV is important for people with sight loss to live independently, it does not just help the visually impaired. Tourists, older people, and infrequent bus users all find AV useful. A recent Guide Dogs survey shows that about half of those surveyed would use the bus more frequently if it had AV.
For more information on the Talking Buses campaign and Guide Dogs, visit their website at www.guidedogs.co.uk or to learn more about the local Guide Dogs Mobility Team, visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/guidedogslondon.