Guide Dogs Scotland calls for 'talking buses'

Scrumpy the guide dog
Image caption Guide Dogs Scotland said many with sight loss found travelling by bus difficult

Guide Dogs Scotland is calling for "talking buses" to be introduced across the country to cater for the needs of blind and partially sighted people.

The charity wants all buses fitted with audio-visual technology to announce routes, destinations and next stops.

It said audio announcements made a "massive difference" to passengers with sight loss.

Many felt excluded from bus travel because of a lack of accessible information, Guide Dogs Scotland said.

The call follows a survey by the charity which suggested blind and partially sighted people were being cut off from family and friends and forced to turn down jobs because buses did not cater for their needs.

'Missed stops'

A total of 94% of people with sight loss who responded to the survey said they were unable to enjoy the freedom that others took for granted because they found travelling by bus so difficult.

And 84% of respondents said they had been put off from visiting friends and family.

Edinburgh guide dog owner Elaine MacKenzie said current bus services made it difficult for her and her guide dog Una to get out and about.

"I use buses often as they are my only form of transport," she said.

"As I still have some sight, day travel is not too bad, but my vision reduces a great deal when it gets dark.

"As a result I have missed stops and ended up in streets I am totally unfamiliar with."

She added: "I ask drivers to announce stops, but with the best will in the world, they don't always remember."

Guide Dogs chief executive Richard Leaman said: "Buses are a vital way for people with sight loss to get out and about freely and independently, but many feel excluded from bus travel because of a lack of accessible information.

"At present there is inconsistency within and between bus companies, which means some routes in some areas are fitted with audio-visual technology but, on many buses, passengers who are visually impaired have no help at all.

"We call on the government to regulate to ensure that all buses are Talking Buses."

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