“I couldn’t do this independently.”
George Rogers, a representative from Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), was taken on a bus journey by the Birmingham Sight Loss Council (BSLC) while wearing sim-specs simulating retinitis pigmentosa.
The sight loss council, a group of visually impaired volunteers set up by Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) to advocate for the needs of blind and partially sighted people in Birmingham, wanted to demonstrate to TfWM the challenges faced by visually impaired people as part of their efforts to improve public transport.
George found catching the bus while wearing sim-specs incredibly difficult.
“I didn’t enjoy the bus rides; there was too much going on. Overload with stuff you can’t see going on,” George said.
“It’s nerve wracking really. I couldn’t see the step down (off the bus).”
He struggled to comprehend how visually impaired people could catch public transport on their own.
“How do you even know what stop to wait at? How do you know where the door is? I would be stuck. I wouldn’t even know what direction to walk in.”
BSLC members also shared their experiences and difficulties with George and his colleague Anna Sirmoglou, the Equalities and Diversity Manager at the West Midlands Combined Authority.
The council is working with TfWM to get changes to buses and other public transport to make it easier for people with sight loss to travel.
TfWM is a part of the West Midlands Combined Authority set up to co-ordinate investment to improve the region’s transport infrastructure and create a fully integrated, safe and secure network.