Joel is travelling to his next important meeting

Mon 1 Sept 1005Am

Joel standing on the street with his guide dog Atkins

This morning, like many mornings, Joel’s travelling with his guide dog Atkins to London for a business meeting. And thanks to the audio announcements on buses in the capital, it’s straightforward for him to be on time, and keep to his job’s demanding schedule.

He says: “When I use talking buses in London, life is so much easier because I can be confident about where I am. I know I’m not going to miss my stop.”

However it’ll be a different story for Joel’s journey back this evening. Buses in Oxfordshire don’t yet have audio announcements of destinations, the current stop and next stop. Meaning that getting home can be tricky.

“When there’s no announcements made”, he says, “there’s anxiety all the time. Once, I asked the driver if it was my stop, and he said ‘yes’, but I was further down the route than I should have been, and I ended up standing by the ring road in the rain for half an hour getting soaked.”

Thanks to the Talking Buses campaign by Guide Dogs, audio announcements are available on buses across London. But only a handful of other cities have them – so the vast majority of people who are blind and partially sighted in the UK still struggle to use their local bus services.

Joel hopes that talking buses will come to Oxfordshire soon. “I would have thought in this day and age all buses would have had it really”, he adds.

Guide Dogs is campaigning to make audio announcements available on board bus and coach services across the UK, so all people with sight loss can travel with confidence, and get where they want to go to in life. You can find out more about the ‘Talking Buses’ campaign and sign the petition here.

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