Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Blind or partially sighted travellers

The following advice is useful for blind and partially sighted people to consider regardless of which type of transport used.

Layout of facilities and orientation

Man with white stick and friend on tube station platformThe website Describe Online provides text descriptions of the layout of public spaces. Directory Enquiries can connect you to local transport operators for information and is a free service if you are registered blind or partially sighted.

The RNIB has useful online travel advice, including specific advice on travelling by rail, London Underground, bus, taxis and minicabs. You can also download a guide called Confident Living: Travel, or order it in print. There is also a travel section in the RNIB's guide to getting great customer service, which outlines what transport operators should provide.

React talking sign systems

React is a system of 'talking signposts' that provide information about public spaces. It works via a small hand-held fob. When switches on, the fob triggers audio messages from speaker units nearby. In some locations, React can be used to get real-time travel information, eg when buses and trains are due.

React has been installed in locations across the UK including Brighton, Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds and Lisburn.

React fobs may be available from your local council or charities in your area. For more information, contact React Technology on 01457 861431.

Assistance dogs

Travel providers usually allow your working dog to travel with you, providing that it's registered with Assistance Dogs UK and this includes:

  • Guide Dogs
  • Hearing Dogs for Deaf People
  • Dogs for the Disabled
  • Support Dogs
  • Canine Partners for Independence.

Bus, coach and train companies carry registered assistance dogs. National Express also carries 'buddy dogs', a scheme for children and young people from Guide Dogs. Black cabs and private-hire vehicles must carry assistance dogs at no extra cost to the passenger under the Equality Act 2010. Drivers who have a medical condition that means they can't be near dogs will have a 'Notice of Exemption' on their vehicle windscreen.

Going abroad

The Pet Travel Scheme lets you take your assistance dog abroad without the need for quarantine. The dog must be vaccinated against rabies, fitted with a microchip and given the right documentation. What needs doing, when, varies depending on where you're travelling to and from. For more information, contact:

If you're travelling by plane, check the airline's policy on assistance dogs in advance. You'll always need to prove that your dog is registered with Assistance Dogs UK and let the airline know in advance.

Assistance dogs can normally travel free of charge in the passenger cabin with you, but on some airlines they have to travel in the hold of the plane. Always carry identification for your dog, plus a safety harness suitable for securing your dog at take-off, landing and whenever else it is needed.

Last updated: August 2015


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