RNIB NI launches ‘Get On Board’ research report

Post date: 
Wednesday, 2 December 2015

RNIB NI launches ‘Get On Board’ research report, highlighting the barriers people with sight loss face in accessing public transport in NI.

On Thursday 12 November, RNIB NI launched ‘Get on board!’ an Accessible Transport Summary Report at RADAR NI, Northern Ireland’s first fully interactive safety and life skills education centre, located in Belfast.  

About the report

The ‘Get on board’ report presents the findings of RNIB NI’s first comprehensive research study of the public transport needs of blind and partially sighted people in Northern Ireland.  Safe, accessible transport is central to the wellbeing, independence and day to day lives of the 31,000 blind and partially sighted people currently living in Northern Ireland. 
Our research has uncovered four key barriers which still exist in Northern Ireland: affordability, availability and accessibility of public transport, as well as the need for greater Awareness of sight loss amongst public transport staff.  RNIB NI is calling for relevant authorities to act without delay in implementing our recommendations outlined in the report. Key recommendations within the report include:  
  • The extension of audio announcement systems across all Translink bus services
  • A strategic and consistent approach to community transport provision across Northern Ireland, ending the current postcode lottery
  • The development of a Smartphone travel app for blind and partially sighted people
  • Free travel for partially sighted people and free travel for companions of blind or partially sighted passengers

Quotes from the day

Michael Joyce who lives with sight loss and actively campaigns with our charity, spoke from a personal perspective at the event.  He highlighted the necessity of accessible transport for people with sight loss and said: "I can say from experience that problems I and others have faced in accessing public transport can not only make journeys needlessly difficult, they can also prevent people travelling at all. This cuts people off from their surroundings and impedes their enjoyment of life.  These problems could in many instances be addressed with simple training and awareness raising with transport providers.  Our local campaigners Active Network (CAN) delivered access advice sessions to Translink in the Northwest area and this has already achieved some great outcomes.”
The launch of our ‘Get on board!’ report is timely as the department of Regional Development (DRD) is currently preparing a new ten-year Accessible Transport Strategy.  
Speaking at the event, Regional Development Minister, Michelle McIlveen said: "I welcome this report which acknowledges that public transport for all, including those who are blind or partially sighted, has improved because of significant investment in transport infrastructure by the Northern Ireland Executive.  
"The introduction of Audio Visual Systems on our Metro bus services is a positive example of a service improvement which has enhanced access to public transport for people with visual impairments.  Work towards a more accessible transport network will be taken forward following the outcome of the public consultation on a new Accessible Transport Strategy".
Other key note speakers at the launch of the report included Chris Conway, CEO, (Translink); Alan Todd, Assistant Chief Constable, (Police Service of Northern Ireland), Jacqueline Witherow, Campaigns and Research Manager (RNIB NI) and David Galloway, Director (RNIB NI). 
David Galloway said: “Our research highlights areas that need to be urgently addressed. Progress has been made, and we acknowledge that. However, shortcomings remain. Barriers to travel are still the most commonly reported challenge for people with sight loss. Accessible transport is a right not a privilege, to ensure that people are able to participate in employment, leisure and social life. Being able to travel independently and safely is essential to promote wellbeing.
We are calling on all relevant authorities, transport companies and politicians to act on our recommendations in order to ensure that the rights of people with sight loss are upheld.” 

Find out more

Both the summary and full versions of the report are available in accessible formats from our Northern Ireland campaigns webpage
For further information about our campaign work in Northern Ireland or to request a full version of our Accessible Transport Research Report, please contact our Campaigns team on 028 9032 9373 or email [email protected] .  
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