Last week in parliament I showed my support for a campaign led by the charity Guide Dogs to make travelling by bus easier for people with sight loss.

The reception at the Houses of Parliament on 2nd July was in support of Guide Dogs’ campaign to make sure all new buses have audio visual (AV) next stop announcements, which are vital for blind and partially sighted bus travellers.

AV systems are only fitted to around one fifth of the bus fleet nationally, with the overwhelming majority of these buses operating in London. Lothian Buses in Edinburgh have made some advancements in recent years, with 54 vehicles (and 20 more this summer) using AV announcements. I believe more needs to be done though, and Guide Dogs is calling for the Government to require all new buses be fitted with AV.

During Labour Party Conference last year, I had the opportunity to visit Guide Dogs UK’s excellent stall, and in January I spent a morning at their Edinburgh office where I took a blindfolded walk with the assistance of both a dog and a cane. Both of these experiences brought home to me the challenges which those with visual impairments face on a daily basis. Installing AV announcements on all new buses will provide vital assistance in helping those who are bling or partially sighted to travel independently.

If you want to show your support for the charity, why not sign their petition asking David Cameron to do a blindfolded walk in order to raise awareness for street clutter and poor street design. Just follow this•link.

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