Tips for Visually Impaired People Taking Public Transportation

Using portal video magnifier Snow 7 HD to observe surrounding environment

Using video magnifier with distance view mode to gain information for travel

Public transportation plays an important role in productivity, community involvement and independence for people who are visually impaired or blind since their visual impairment does not allow them the luxury of driving. Many times the only option for those who are blind and visually impaired is the use of mass transit services such as buses, trains, paratransit systems or taxi services. These services are vital to travel independently to work, school, health care facilities, shopping and many other venues in their community.

It can be pretty tricky for a blind or visually impaired person to use bus systems. Rest assured that some sighted users also experience some difficulty. Areas that need attention include planning a route, finding the correct bus, finding the right stop and getting off the bus at the right place.

Some people prefer taking someone with them until they develop the confidence to travel alone. There are many things you can do to get more comfortable using these systems.

1. Information

Those with visual impairment need to gather information about their physical surroundings and about the visible information that appears at transit stops, terminals, on transit vehicles, schedules, maps, and directories in order to use mass transit safely and effectively.

2. Mobile APP

Mobile phone apps can be very useful in situations requiring travel. Those that are blind or partially sighted can use the countdown system to find out when the bus is coming. It is often hard to tell if the bus that just pulled up is the bus that they need. Often times audio announcements are lost in the din of the crowd and it is easier to ask someone. Here are some APP advices.

3. Sounds of bus

Buses have many distinctive and useful sounds. Their diesel engines and air brakes sound different from other vehicles. Engines are usually located at the rear of the bus, and you can hear the doors open and close. Boarding or leaving a bus is usually not very difficult, no more complicated that using a short flight of stairs. Most drivers are required to call out or announce stops if requested to do so. Doubts in the hearing of vision loss people? Please check Do the Blind and Visually Impaired Really Have Better Hearing?

4. Sit forwards

Most public transportation systems have no rules or laws pertaining to priority seating. Whenever possible sit toward the front of the bus or train for easier boarding and departure.

5. Call a taxi

For blind and partially sighted people who find traditional public transportation unfeasible, good taxi service is key to their independence. Although using a taxi service seems quite simple, for the visually impaired getting a taxi can be very complicated.

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