SOUTH Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck experienced life without sight as she took part in a blindfold journey through the town.
The Labour politician took a bus ride followed by a walk on Westoe Road as she was shown the everyday difficulties faced by those affected by sight loss, including using public transport.
She was accompanied by David Waterfall-Brown, a mobility instructor for Guide Dogs, which has launched a Talking Buses campaign calling for a change in the law to make audio and visual information – including announcements of the current stop, next stop and final destination – available on board bus and coach services across the UK.
After her bus ride, Mrs Lewell-Buck continued with a walk along Westoe Road, where she was taught the importance of hearing traffic when crossing a busy road.
She said: “I found taking part in the blindfold bus journey and walk a really frightening experience.
“To suddenly have everything go dark was very daunting.
“However, I was lucky to have with me the excellent staff from Guide Dogs.
“The whole experience really highlighted the many difficulties faced by blind and partially sighted people, and how important it is that politicians take their needs into account when considering access to public transport and the importance of being able to hear traffic when crossing roads.
“I fully support their campaigns, and I look forward to continuing to work with them in the future.”
Guide Dogs representative Linda Oliver said its latest survey shows that bus passengers with sight loss are feeling isolated because buses don’t cater for their needs.
She added: “Buses play a vital role in enabling disabled children and adults – including those who are blind or partially-sighted – to live more independent lives.
“But the worry of not being sure if you have got on the right bus, where you are on your journey, or when your stop is coming up, puts many people off using them.”
Guide Dogs’ latest survey revealed that developments with electric, hybrid and quiet combustion engine cars are making today’s vehicles quieter and posing a serious risk to blind and partially-sighted pedestrians.
The organisation says its research has shown that electric and hybrid cars travelling at certain speeds can only be heard less than a second before impact, and is now campaigning for the installation of audible sound generators on cars to improve road safety for all pedestrians.