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MPs ‘see’ dangers for blind people at Wolverhampton train station

By Thomas Parkes | Wolverhampton | Transport | Published:

Three MPs visited a railway station for an eye opening experience – despite being blindfolded.

MPs Eleanor Smith, Pat McFadden and Emma Reynolds at Wolverhampton railway station

Emma Reynolds, MP for Wolverhampton North East, Eleanor Smith, MP for Wolverhampton South West, and Pat McFadden, MP for Wolverhampton South East, visited the city’s railway station to experience how difficult it is for blind or partially-sighted people to use public transport.

The three MPs were given glasses to mimic partial site and walking sticks and then set off around the station.

Emma Reynolds said: “The first thing to say is that it’s a very effective way, putting glasses on someone with normal vision, to imagine what it’s like to be partially sighted and it’s very disorientating.

"I’ve noticed small things that could be added to the platforms to make them safer, like tactile pavement, and that way we can help people.

Wolverhampton North East MP Emma Reynolds is guided along the platform

“What people are asking me to do is take this up to the company and organisation on the challenges of the station when it’s being rebuilt.”

Tactile pavement is a textured surface which is used to help visually impaired pedestrians.

The MPs navigated to platform four, where they tentatively climbed up the stairs with help from guides.

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Pat McFadden MP is guided down the stairs

Pat McFadden said: “We tried to do this first as partially sighted and then with a complete blindfold. With the complete blindfold, you are totally reliant on the guide.

“I’m realistic enough to know a few minutes with a blindfold does not give you what it’s really like, but it gives you a small sense of what people go through.

“The station is scheduled for renewal already, but I think we need to make sure that we have the tactile paving and they have applied for some extra money for that.”

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Eleanor Smith in the train station foyer

The event, hosted by the chair of the Black Country Sight Loss Council Joshua Feehan, hoped to raise awareness of what it’s like to catch public transport as a blind or partially-sighted person.

Mr Feehan said: “I think the MPs did excellently and they threw themselves into it.

"I was registered blind and I lost my sight when I was 15. It happened over a two week period through a genetic condition.

"But I work with people like me and try to improve services across the area."

Eleanor Smith added: "It was very challenging and one of those people who are very compassionate, I feel like we have not thought about this before.

"They did it on platform four, but now we want the work to be done elsewhere at the station.

"The people have a right as everyone else and we should not be thinking twice in making them able to travel like we do."

Thomas Parkes

By Thomas Parkes
Trainee Reporter - @TParkes_Star

Trainee reporter at the Express & Star, based in Wolverhampton. Got a story? Get in touch at thomas.parkes@expressandstar.co.uk.

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