Catching the bus shouldn’t be a headache…

Umbrella Petition 1On Saturday 12th September I, along with other volunteers and guide dog staff stood in The Cascades Shopping Centre. We were there to collect signatures in support for Guide Dogs Campaign 'Talking Buses.' A petition to get 'The Big 5' bus companies to install Audio Visual on all new buses.

Many, many people stopped and signed our petition; many of those asked the same question.... "Why is this needed?"

Imagine being put on a bus, being told your final destination, but not knowing anything else, how would you feel? Scared, Nervous, Excited, Dependent on others, or all of the above.

I would like to welcome you to my world. My name is Tee, I have a visual impairment. Every bus journey to me is a mystery tour, with the exception of 1 or 2.

I hated that my confidence and independence reduced with my sight, but now I am taking control again. With my second guide dog Fizz by my side, I will give almost any thing a go!

To do this though, takes a lot of planning, preparation and an iPhone with accessible tech. It shouldn't need to though. It should be different, public transport should be universal and accessible to all.

With friends working in 'The Big City' I regularly travel to London, it's just under 2 hours by train into Waterloo. Train is the simplest way for me to travel. Even going such a distance. Once in London, ALL public transport is accessible to me. Thanks to London hosting the 2012 Olympics. Boris Johnson made a promise to make the games accessible to all, to give tourists primarily, an easy way to navigate.

But it doesn't just help tourists, it has helped me..... I now know I can confidently explore London, be that by tube or bus. The reason for this, is just like all train providers, all London transport offers audio visual technology (AV) meaning that an automated voice will announce the next stop, while a screen with display it in clear text.

It means that other than asking the number of the bus, I can sit down with confidence, I am not relying on the driver remembering to tell me when to get off, or even hearing him or her if they do.

With Fizz guiding me through the crowds, even the London Underground is not a concern, as with the trains, all tubes have an audio announcement. The most popular stops also have a brief description of the landmarks close by.

Huddersfield 1It's strange though, I can travel to London, a major city which is much larger and much busier than my closest cities of Southampton or Portsmouth independently. But I feel nervous, uncomfortable and dependent if I travel alone to either of these! So I simply don't. I go with friends, or I go with a large print map (on my phone) which I strain to see and often arrive with a headache.

The talking buses campaign is not 'just' for those with a visual impairment, those with a guide dog or those that use a white cane. It is inclusion for all. Someone with hearing loss will appreciate the display; someone engrossed in the latest 'must have ' novel will appreciate the announcement to break their concentration, advising them when their stop is coming up. It is a win win situation for all. So please take a few moments of your time to sign the petition.

Me & Fizz thank you x

Read Theresa’s regular blog ‘See my Way’ online now.



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Theresa and Fizz

This week’s blog is written by local campaigner and blogger Theresa.