Blind World Magazine

United Kingdom.
Innovation for blind bus users.

The Argus, Sussex (UK).
Wednesday, March 01, 2006.

Blind people will soon be able to check when their next bus is due to arrive at the push of a button.

Brighton and Hove City Council has allocated 30,000 to a system which will allow visually impaired travellers to hear the latest bus information through a tiny key fob.

When the fob is activated near an enabled bus stop, it picks up a signal.

A voice then announces the time, the stop name, service number and the destination and arrival times of expected buses.

The scheme, still under development, shares the same principles as one launched in Bristol last summer.

The Bristol scheme broadcasts information through a speaker attached to the bus stop.

But users of the Brighton version will be able to hear the information individually through their key fob.

Council officers in Brighton consulted the city's Disabled Access Group.

Officers are convinced the scheme, the first of its kind in the UK, will be popular with younger users who might be reluctant to draw attention to themselves.

The fobs are being developed by the Royal National Institute of the Blind and the computer software by Advanced Communication and Information Systems.

The technology will link to real time passenger information.

This is a system installed in 110 of the city's bus stops which tracks buses by satellite and relays information to electronic displays.

The Conservatives proposed the funding for the project at last week's budget meeting.

Tory Councillor Brian Pidgeon said: "Blind and partially sighted residents of this city have been neglected for long enough and it is about time the public transport system gave them a fairer deal.

"The talking bus stops in Bristol have met with glowing praise and we hope to enjoy similar success in Brighton and Hove."

It will take between six months to a year to develop a trial scheme. It is hoped the service will eventually be installed in all the city's real-time bus stops.

Disability Access Group member Maggie King said: "It's wonderful the council is to spend money on disabled people - they get left in the background from time to time."

It will take between six months to a year to develop a trial scheme at a single bus stop.

It is is hoped the service will eventually be installed at all the city's real-time bus stops.

The council will then look at how the technology might be extended to buses so blind people know when they have reached their stop.

End of article.

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