I encountered a barrier to access when I was trying to find the correct bus to get me to my destination.
I was at the central bus interchange in Dunedin and couldn't confirm the correct bus due to being Deaf and unable to quickly communicate with the bus driver. Another person was about to hop on the bus and he seemed to point elsewhere. I guessed that this was the wrong bus because it seemed the driver was trying to indicate his bus route was going uphill, whereas I wanted to go to the flat land of St Clair Beach.
I hopped off the bus and walked to a different part of the interchange to try to find the correct bus - which I eventually did - but it should not be guesswork! The bus drivers, and bus IT and communication systems, need to be clear, instant and correct.
Numerous, similar incidents have occurred to me before, usually when I was unable to quickly communicate with a bus driver. I have had bus transport barrier incidents happen in other cities that were more embarrassing than this one in Dunedin. For example, one evening two buses went in completely unexpected directions. I think the hearing passengers knew why, but I didn't until a transport station official finally informed me. Other passengers were looking at me as though I was an idiot or imbecile, when I was just very confused and frustrated by the diversions. It turned out to be a major route closure event, but without any notification or communications that I could access.
The new accessibility legislation should make it compulsory for bus IT systems to communicate correct routes, bus stops and route alterations in captions and in New Zealand Sign Language. They should set up Bluetooth technology to enable mobile apps to query bus IT systems.
This is a story about the barriers many face. We're sharing it because we want a law that puts accessibility at the heart of an inclusive Aotearoa New Zealand.
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