How can Visionary members help improve the experience of public transport for people with visual impairments?

People with visual impairments encounter a range of daily challenges when using public transport. This research delves beyond the physical barriers, aiming to understand the impact of these challenges on people’s everyday lives.

Visionary, supported by grant funding from Motability, commissioned this study to engage individuals with visual impairments. The goal was to develop clear recommendations and tools that charities can use to provide effective support.

We conducted three-hour depth interviews and shadowed journeys with 20 blind or partially sighted people, to identify the barriers they face when using public transport, and understand the wider impact this has on their daily lives. We also interviewed stakeholders working in public transport to understand their views on transport accessibility.

Three overarching recommendations emerged for how charities can better support people with visual impairments:

  1. Building confidence: few of the people we spoke to were confident navigating less familiar journeys. Ensuring people feel empowered to use the tools, support and technology available to them to improve their travel experiences is a crucial step in building their confidence using public transport.
  2. Supporting those with visual impairments to have reasons to travel, focusing on encouraging people to maintain or build their social network, and engage in local activities and sharing learnings
  3. Engaging stakeholders effectively and lobby for change: this includes identifying and building connections with stakeholders that are best placed to make change, and helping them understand the key challenges that blind and partially sighted people face.

From this, we developed a toolkit that charities can use to provide effective support. This toolkit includes shareable case studies and a film, with the ultimate aim of building confidence of people with visual impairments when using public transport.