RNIB Educating E-Scooter Company Voi About Importance of Well-Parked E-Scooters for People With Sight Loss

Sight loss charity the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) showed employees from e-scooter operator Voi what it is like to walk around towns and cities for blind or partially sighted people, demonstrating the importance of well-parked e-scooters.

A person wearing a blindfold and using a walking stick is holding onto an RNIB employee as they're directed down a street
Jim Hubbard, from Voi, on a “sim spec” walk in Cambridge with Warren Wilson, from RNIB East of England

RNIB provided “sim specs” – pairs of glasses which replicate common sight conditions – which Voi staff put on for a walk outside Cambridge rail station, including passing a Voi e-scooter and e-bike parking place.

The Voi staff were guided by RNIB Cambridge colleagues and volunteers, who also lent them their white canes to help navigate crossing roads, bollards and benches.

Watch the video here.

Warren Wilson, RNIB’s East of England community facilitator, said:

The point of doing visual awareness sessions with people like Voi is to give people an impression of what it’s like to live with sight loss and navigate built environments.

I’m visually impaired myself and the sorts of things I have to manage walking around are the noise of the traffic around you, busy streets, people pulling suitcases, so on top of that, having e-scooters parked inconsiderately is just another thing to think about. If you’re tripping over them or walking into them with your cane, it can be quite disorientating.

It’s really important and very appreciated that Voi staff have given up their time to take part in one of these sessions.

Bernie Reddington, RNIB’s regional campaigns officer for the East of England, said:

Being able to safely navigate the pavements and get around safely is challenging in the best of circumstances for blind and partially sighted people and we rely heavily on other street users to behave in a considerate and thoughtful manner.

Unexpected obstacles on pavements pose significant risks for someone with sight loss and can make the difference between some having the confidence to travel confidently and independently or feeling too scared to leave their home.

I was pleased to witness the insight that wearing the sim specs and taking a walk with us gave the Voi staff and hope that it will better inform their decision making and training modules for riders.

Just taking a couple of seconds to consider the needs of other people using the street can make a massive difference to those of us with sight loss.

Jim Hubbard, senior public policy manager for Voi UK and Ireland, who took part in the walk, said:

Putting on the sim specs and taking a walk gave valuable insight into the challenges faced by people with sight loss on an everyday basis.

We want to make sure that we do everything we can to make sure that e-scooters are parked so that they do not become an additional challenge for blind and partially sighted people, or people with wheelchairs or buggies.

The event was part of Voi’s regular meetings with its local equalities forum, which aims to ensure that Voi’s operations are accessible and do not disadvantage groups such as people with sight loss or wheelchair users.

Voi hopes to install more parking racks, including those which have been developed in association with RNIB, in Cambridge, including outside Cambridge station.

Voi also works with other sight loss charities in the UK, including the Thomas Pocklington Trust and Guide Dogs to make streets safer for blind and partially sighted people, as well as pan-impairment group Transport for All to ensure disabled people can travel with freedom and independence.

Bad parking of Voi e-scooters can be reported to report.voi.com.

This article was originally published by Voi.


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