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.
Wayne David, MP for Caerphilly, got a chance to experience for himself why people with sight loss need audio-visual announcements (AV) on buses, through playing a memory game, at the Labour Party Conference.
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.
Finding out more about Guide Dogs’ work, Mr David heard 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.
After visiting the Guide Dogs’ stand, Wayne David said, “Remembering the journeys was a great way of emphasising how difficult it is for a bus driver to always remember to tell people when to get off. AV is such a simple solution and would ensure access for all to a form of public transport that is so vital to people’s everyday lives.”
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.