There is growing anger among blind and vision impaired people at the ongoing failure to install and use audible announcements on Iarnród Éireann DART, intercity and commuter trains, according to VISPA (Vision Impaired Service Providers Alliance), an alliance of Irish sight loss organisations.
Audible announcements tell passengers what station they are approaching and make it easier for people who are blind or vision impaired to travel independently. A group of blind and vision impaired people have now had enough of the ongoing delays in ensuring the availability of audible announcements and have initiated a campaign to blitz Iarnród Éireann with text messages on Monday 23rd July.
The problem with audible announcements is one that has been going on for many years, according to VISPA chair Des Kenny, who is Chief Executive of NCBI, the national sight loss agency. “NCBI has been working on this matter for a number of years and while we understand that certain DART trains are not yet capable of facilitating automatic audible announcements, it is unacceptable that it is taking Iarnród Éireann so long to upgrade this DART fleet. We are not confident that the upgrade will happen in 2012, in spite of their claims.”
“Iarnród Éireann’s states that all intercity trains have working audible announcements but a survey carried out by VISPA last year confirms that announcements are often not used, or are incorrect, further compounding the problem,” continues Mr Kenny.
VISPA is calling on Transport Minister Leo Varadkar to ensure that Iarnród Éireann lives up to its commitment to carry out the necessary improvements to DART trains in 2012 to ensure safe and independent travel for people who are blind or vision impaired and is asking Iarnród Éireann to ensure that audible announcements are used consistently and accurately, where the capability exists.
Contact Fionnuala Murphy, Communications Manager, NCBI on 087 4116925 or email email@example.com.
Notes to editors:
- VISPA is the Vision Impaired Service Providers Alliance and is made up of NCBI, the national sight loss agency; Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind, ChildVision and Fighting Blindness.
- VISPA conducted a survey into audible announcements in 2011, which detailed a rather disappointing picture of non-compliance and inconsistency in respect of audible announcements made both within trains and on specific stations as recorded from 93 train journeys.
- 69% of announcements on trains were not deemed to be audible to the researcher(s) and of 38 announcements, 67.8% were found to have been correct, a likely cause for concern with regards to 32.1% of instances where information was incorrect.
- The researcher(s) indicated that on 42 occasions (76.2%), there was no announcement made on specific train journeys. In 8 instances the announcement could either not be heard or/and understood. 9% of announcements were made by a driver that was not related to destinations.