Emma went to a reception at the Houses of Parliament on 2 July in support of Guide Dogs’ campaign to make sure all new buses have audio visual (AV) next stop announcements, which are vital for blind and partially sighted bus travellers.
The reception, which was addressed by Bus Minister Baroness Kramer, highlighted how announcements enable blind and partially sighted people to understand their location, and prevent them from missing their stops.
AV systems are only fitted to around one fifth of the bus fleet nationally, with the overwhelming majority of these buses operating in London.
Guide Dogs is calling for the Government to require all new buses be fitted with AV, as currently bus operators are under no obligation to include this technology when upgrading their fleet.
Earlier this year Emma took part in a blindfolded bus journey organised by Guide Dogs to find out for herself the challenges people with visual impairments face.
“Blind and partially sighted people benefit hugely from having accessible public transport. As I learned on my recent blindfolded bus journey, taking public transport can be a stressful experience when you aren’t able to see. But at the moment four out of five buses don’t have AV announcements to assist people with sight loss.
“Guide Dogs are doing a great job raising awareness about this issue, and I have written to the Minister in the Buses calling for action. We need the Government to listen so that blind and partially sighted people can get around safely and live more independent lives.”
James White, Guide Dog’s Campaigns Manager, said:
“Buses are a lifeline for people who are blind or partially sighted, and we welcome the support of Emma Lewell-Buck for people with sight loss to be able to travel safely and independently.”
“Without AV, bus travel for people with sight loss can be especially difficult, stressful, and dangerous when stops are missed and they end up in an unfamiliar area.
“Safe and accessible bus services give people with sight loss much greater freedom to work, socialise and participate in the community.”