Much can be done to improve transit for the visually impaired people who rely on it in Regina, writes Kelly Waldal.
This week, the blind and partially sighted community is raising public awareness across Saskatchewan with an accessible public transit campaign.
Accessible public transportation is a legislated human right for residents of Saskatchewan and is a key advocacy issue from people in the vision loss community.
Despite provincial accessibility legislation, and the recent public announcement of the City of Regina’s transit master plan, there are currently significant gaps for the vision loss Riders using the Regina transit service.
The City of Regina administration has a civic responsibility to ensure planners and transit policy overseers revisit the thought process that approved the location and installation of a new bus shelter located in the middle of a block with no sidewalk to ensure safe access to and from the bus stop location in the snow and rain.
Low-vision riders must often wait outside the bus shelter during inclement weather, as transit operators often pass by the bus stop if the rider does not step out of the bus shelter when the bus approaches.
Low-vision riders lose their independence when the inside bus stop location announcements are turned off and the outside bus route number announcement is also turned off, creating difficulty for low-vision riders at busy downtown transit locations attempting to find the desired bus.
During the winter, snow removal maintenance operations often leave snowplow ridges, which means low-vision riders and those blind individuals with guide dogs must confront climbing over the snow barrier when entering and exiting the bus.
Transit stop locations with no brail or large print signage or adequate pedestrian crossing signals at busy vehicle intersections deny riders safe access to their business centres and shopping malls and to popular transit locations that ultimately marginalize the vision loss community.
Several of the indignities experienced by the blind and partially sighted community attempting to safely access Regina’s public transit service have been presented in the past to city administrators through the Regina accessibility advisory committee.
Several of the noted challenges experienced by the vision loss riders have cost-effective solutions that necessitates authentic internal conversations to mitigate the city’s departmental decision silos to ensure accountability to support a single objective — make Regina’s public transit service truly inclusive for all residents of Regina.
Kelly Waldal, Regina
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