Welcome Aboard: Improving Accessibility on Public Transport

a photo of bus

Buses, trains and other modes of public transportation play a pivotal role in daily life for people across the globe.

Whether commuting to work, taking trips with family or friends and visiting the doctor or dentist, public transport is a real lifeline everyone has a right to.

However, accessibility issues can make traveling difficult (if not impossible) for people affected by disabilities. Specifically, those living with blindness or visual impairments.

Knowing when the right bus or train has arrived, boarding it safely, finding a seat and having room for a guide dog to rest comfortably are all key concerns. The industry has changed for the better in numerous ways over the years, paving the way for safer, more convenient transportation — but can more still be done?

Taking Action for a Better Experience

Companies operating bus and train services have made important policy adjustments to accommodate people with disabilities, but facilities remain far from perfect.

 

In the UK, the Bus Services Bill was introduced in May 2016, with an aim to give local councils more power to meet the needs of people with impaired sight. But it has been amended since, thanks to the tireless efforts of Guide Dogs for the Blind, a charity organization.

Its campaign to improve bus services actually led the Government to amend the Bus Services Bill so that all buses would have to enhance their accessibility. As a result, clear information on upcoming and final stops must be available for those with sight-related disabilities.

This is a positive change that will give passengers more independence when travelling solo. However, bus companies and drivers all require training to address the needs of passengers with disabilities to make such regulatory changes truly effective.

Tools to Aid Passengers with Sight-Related Disabilities

Finding your way around a bus or train may be a challenge, particularly when crowded. Now, imagine just how much harder this would be if you were unable to see.

 

Seats, rails, other passengers and their belongings can all prove dangerous to people who are blind or visually impaired. One would hope people are considerate enough to warn them of obstructions in their way or guide them to a seat, but that cannot be relied upon in every case.

This is why indoor orientation solutions, such as RightHear, are invaluable. RightHear is designed to give users clear audio guidance through interiors, taking over where GPS fails. Installing sensors on buses and trains would make it easier for passengers living with sight loss to travel in a safer, more independent way.

It would take time for companies to embrace this cutting-edge technology and integrate it across their fleets, even though the tech has the power to create an entirely different experience for travelers. But some of the regulations already in place are somewhat basic, with little incentive for companies to utilize cutting-edge solutions.

The ADA’s requirements for public transit vehicles include large handrails, priority seating, clear doorways / pathways, efficient lighting and more. A company like Amtrak, for example, has a wealth of information on its website covering accessibility.

But while this is helpful, details on traveling with service animals or other issues related to sight-related disabilities remains a little vague. Companies in public transportation must do more to care for those in a more vulnerable position than the ‘average’ passenger.

Hopefully, they will face continued pressure to accommodate people with sight-related disabilities to a higher standard.

If you read all the way here, we can share with you that we at RightHear are currently planing our next Dev efforts for the transportation needs. If you have any issue with the public transportation in your erea or if you have ideas on how it can be more accessible – let us know in the comments below.

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