Railways failing people with sight loss

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Inadequate stations and undertrained staff obstacles to train travel, survey finds.

29th August 2019 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

Almost one in five people with sight loss have missed or avoided a rail journey due to access issues, according to a new survey.

Research for the Guide Dogs charity found that inadequate station architecture, lack of proper knowledge from station staff and difficulties finding a seat were listed as significant obstacles to travel by more than 60% of respondents.

Almost half (45%) of people with sight issues said travelling by train was stressful, rising to more than two thirds (67%) among respondents aged 16-25.

Shockingly, one in ten people with sight loss said they had been left stranded on a platform after missing a train. Close to a quarter (24%) of those who say they avoid taking the train admit they don’t feel comfortable travelling alone.

A Guide Dogs spokesman said the consequences of missing or avoiding trains could have significant impacts upon the lives of people with sight loss.

These include missing job appointments, important meetings or family events. The emotional toll of being unable to complete a rail journey means people polled said they felt scared (36%), helpless (26%) and angry (23%), while 17% went as far as to say they felt like a burden and excluded from society.

Close to one in five (19%) people agree they would travel by train more if services were made more accessible.

Clive Wood, engagement officer at Guide Dogs, concludes: “Behind every missed or avoided journey is real person like me with real experiences of feeling totally left out of life.

“Whilst rail is undoubtedly one of the most complex methods of travel for someone with sight loss, there are several improvements which would make a huge difference if they could be made. For example, improved training and education for customer service staff at train stations and greater awareness and understanding.

“Everyone with sight loss deserves to be able to travel with the same level of confidence and freedom as any other passenger and for inclusive, accessible train travel to be a reality in the future.”