What accessible travel means to me as a legally blind person
Emily, 26, London
Emily is a legally blind content creator from London. She tells us about her experience using transport and what accessible rail travel looks like to her.
I'm left hoping that she won’t get trodden on by wayward feet. rarely offered a seat; I get on a train and it’s as if people see right through me. I often arrive at my station feeling anxious and unwell from the having to stand on a moving train. This is not exactly ideal if you have a day of work ahead.
I want to lead an independent life, but one of the struggles I face as a legally blind person is travel.
I’ve been a content creator and freelance journalist for the past eight years. In that time, I’ve had opportunities to travel across the country. Now, as someone in my mid-20s, I’m broadening my horizons to look for work and to build a career. Yet one of the questions I often ask myself when applying for jobs is “how am I going to get there?”
How am I going to get there
I work with a guide dog, and I also have a very demanding endocrine illness. So, when I commute, there are certain things that I need to consider. I need to organise travel assistance. I need to find out if a station has lifts. I have to decide how I’m going to buy my ticket if there’s no staff at my local station that morning.
So, what would accessible travel look like for me? I would like to be able to buy every train ticket I need through an App. Although many train companies offer this service now, not all do. It is much more accessible to use an App to present your ticket if you are a visually impaired person. It also saves a lot of time and hassle when it comes to purchasing a rail ticket.
Finding a seat is even an issue
Finding a seat is always a rather stress-inducing experience. Especially when you board a train during peak times. I often have to stand near the train doors with my guide dog. I’m left hoping that she won’t get trodden on by wayward feet. Rarely offered a seat; I get on a train, and it’s as if people see right through me.
I often arrive at my station feeling anxious and unwell from the having to stand on a moving train. This is not exactly ideal if you have a day of work ahead.
Train companies need to do more to make passengers aware of priority seats and who they for.
Transferring from train to tube
Living in London a huge issue I face is when I attempt to transfer from a main station onto the underground. Having a guide dog who isn’t escalator trained, I cannot use moving escalators. So, I either have to walk on stationary escalators or use a lift.
The problem is, not all stations have lifts to access the underground. Plus walking up and down, escalators is very tiring and disorientating. Not to mention its time consuming and not always an option during busy hours, which makes it very complicated when I’m looking to apply for potential jobs, and the quickest route is via a tube.
My ideal train journey
One thing I seek when travelling on trains is simplicity. An ideal train journey for me would be one where I can buy a ticket on an App before travelling. I would then like to board a train and find a seat where I can sit with my guide dog. Finally, I would like to arrive at my destination to receive assistance. I would like to be able to mobilise around the station freely like any non-disabled person.
We need to streamline the system and make it accessible for disabled passengers. Disabled people aspire for the opportunity to thrive and develop. Accessible travel could help to ease that.
Get on Board: Making the economic case for “levelling up” inclusive transport
We’re calling for a new law that guarantees all rail journeys in Britain will be fully accessible by 2030. This must include an implementation plan with sufficient funding to ensure genuine progress is made.