Lothian Buses to launch visually impaired mobile app

Royal Blind School pupils, from left, Junjie, Scott and Jake with Lothian Buses street supervisor David Adams. Picture: Greg Macvean
Royal Blind School pupils, from left, Junjie, Scott and Jake with Lothian Buses street supervisor David Adams. Picture: Greg Macvean
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A NEW app which will help blind and visually impaired people travel around the Capital with greater freedom has been launched by Lothian Buses.

The updates to the Transport for Edinburgh mobile app are believed to be the first of their kind in Scotland and have been created with the help of specialist teams in the Capital.

It is hoped the improvements to the free programme available for smartphones will make journey across the Capital for those with visual impairment much easier.

The company worked closely with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and the Royal Blind School, to create the new update in order to assist the blind and visually impaired when using its bus or tram services.

The free app now includes VoiceOver technology which means anoyone with the app installed can point their phone at a tram or bus stop and the phone will announce the name of the stop and where services go from there.

It also provides real-time departure information for every tram and bus stop in Edinburgh, learns which bus or tram the passenger is travelling on using GPS, and can announce the next stop even if the phone is locked and in the passenger’s pocket, meaning blind and visually impaired passengers won’t miss their stop. Alan Dudley from the RNIB iPhone Users Group said: “I’ve been using buses in Edinburgh for years, and once I know a route, I can use the buses quite easily but it does take time to learn how to use the right buses when I need to travel somewhere new.

“This app provides a new level of independence when using Edinburgh’s transport network. It lets me know when to get ready to leave the bus, and makes getting around using unfamiliar buses and trams much easier.”

John McEvoy, digital designer at Transport for Edinburgh, said: “This has been a real partnership with the RNIB and Royal Blind School over many months to make our app as user-friendly for our blind and visually impaired passengers as possible.

“The new features have been designed to help them get around Edinburgh more easily, giving them information they need around bus stop locations and also helping them with their journey planning and keeping them right when it comes to getting on and off buses and trams.

“We’ve received really positive feedback and are delighted to finally make it available to the public.”

Councillor Lesley Hinds, transport convener and chair of Transport for Edinburgh, said: “We are committed to providing accessible travel for everyone, and this app will further enable passengers to make the most of the services on offer.

“This is one of many innovations by Transport for Edinburgh to create a modern, integrated network for the city, allowing us to provide one of the most accessible public transport services in Scotland.”