31 million journeys (at least!) are made every day in London using the Transport for London (TFL) network, and TFL’s Priority Seating Week aims to highlight the fact that some people using the network may have hidden disabilities. The week was first launched last year, and you may have seen its legacy around the TFL network: the big blue signs over the priority seats on trains saying ‘Please consider other passengers when using this seat’ with the #TravelKind hashtag. We’re glad to see TFL focussing on passengers with disabilities again this year, and further promoting their blue badge scheme.
The blue badge and card – which TFL introduced three years ago now – says ‘Please offer me a seat’, and the aim is to help passengers with disabilities articulate their need for a seat. While blind and partially sighted passengers may use a symbol or mobility cane or a guide dog to navigate through the capital – which often alerts other passengers to their disability – it can be more difficult for passengers with less visible impairments who may also need a seat at times. The blue badge and card was created to help counteract this, and helps alert fellow customers on public transport that you need a seat, when you need one.
London Vision, alongside representatives from TFL, promoted the blue badge scheme at our Local Societies Tea last week. We invited several organisations that work with people with sight loss across the capital to join us, and Rachel and Georgia from TFL answered their questions. We acted out several scenarios involving blue badges, which got the group to think about how they would react in certain situations, and whether the blue badge would be helpful. The exercise was productive, but it was noted by many attendees that it might be more useful for TFL to focus on promoting the scheme amongst able bodied passengers or do more to encourage people to look up from their phones every now and then!
TFL provided everyone in attendance with a blue badge, a colour large print Tube map and their leaflet on accessible travel in London. The large colour Tube map is significantly bigger than the usual maps given out at stations and is particularly useful for people with visual impairments. The accessible travel guide has a number of tips for making your travel through the capital a bit easier – including their travel mentoring service. Travel mentors can help anyone who lives or travels in London, and their mentors will cover all journeys taken on TFL transport. This service is fantastic for helping build travel confidence – if you would like learn more, get in touch with them on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 3054 4631.
So, this Priority Seating Week, why not have a think about how you can be more considerate when using the TFL network. There are many easy things you could do: give your seat to someone who looks like they might need it, or even a small thing like letting people off the train before you get on. One of London Vision’s favourite bloggers – Dr Amy Kavanagh (who wrote a fantastic blog about her mobility cane for us on White Cane Day) – campaigns around the hashtag #JustAskDontGrab, which highlights the need at speak first to a person with a disability, asking whether they need help instead of assuming they do. You can find out more about her campaign here. So perhaps the message is that you should break London’s number one rule and start taking notice of and talking to the people around you while travelling in London!