By Angus Hoy
Tuesday 03 Dec 2013 12:40:00
Browse all One Giant Leap articles
Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald experienced at first hand the challenges experienced on public transport by those with sight loss.

Mr McDonald was blindfolded as he took a journey from Middlesbrough Bus Station with a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor to experience the difficulties faced by those with sight loss in knowing when to get off the bus.

Guide Dogs is campaigning for a change in the law to make audio and visual information – including audible announcements of the current stop, next stop and final destination – available on board bus and coach services across the UK.

Recent research undertaken by Guide Dogs revealed that bus passengers with sight loss feel isolated because buses don’t cater for their needs.

The event on Friday (November 29), hosted by mobility charity Shopmobility with support from the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, was organised to raise awareness of International Day of Disability on Tuesday (December 3).

After his bus ride Mr McDonald experienced a wheelchair trip into Middlesbrough before joining staff and customers of Middlesbrough Shopmobility in the Hillstreet Centre to discuss the concerns of disabled people in the town.

Andy McDonald blindfoldShopmobility Development Manager Gail Chester said: “International day of Disability celebrates the positive action that has been undertaken, as well as highlighting the barriers that still remain in the hope that one day they can be eliminated.

“I am pleased that Andy McDonald was able to join us to experience at first hand the challenges faced by those with disabilities and sight loss, and to hear about the steps that can be taken to make Middlesbrough more inclusive.”

Mr McDonald said: “Wearing a blindfold and experiencing the world without sight was unsettling.

“The experience has given me greater insight into what it is like for a blind or partially sighted person to do what we otherwise take for granted – hailing, getting on a bus and getting off at the right stop.

“That’s why I am supporting the RNIB in their campaign to have audio information available on buses and disability awareness training for drivers. I will be contacting the transport Minister Norman Baker to share my experience and to encourage his intervention.”




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