“The onboard announcements are very helpful for people with visual impairments as they tell us where the tram or the bus is at the time,” says Timo Lehtonen, Vice chair of the City of Helsinki Council on Disability, who relies on a guide dog himself, too.
On 3 December, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, HSL was granted the accessibility award of the City of Helsinki Council on Disability for the announcements on trams and buses. The Council grants the award every year in recognition of work that has been done for the benefit of people with disabilities. The award can be given to individual people as well as to communities.
HSL introduced the first next stop announcements in trams in summer 2018 and in the autumn they have also been heard on buses.
“The announcements lower the threshold of residents with visual impairments for using public transport and encourage them to travel,” says Timo Lehtonen, Vice chair of the City of Helsinki Council on Disability. ”Previously, we had to try to identify familiar bends in the road or sounds to know where the vehicle was. Everyone can imagine that it was not easy.”
“The announcements do not benefit only people with disabilities, but also other users of public transport, such as older people, children and tourists who are visiting the city,” Lehtonen continues.
The City of Helsinki Council on Disability serves as a link and a means of influencing between the city's administrative sectors, political decision-makers and disability organizations. The Council contributes to the planning, preparation and monitoring of those municipal activities that are important in terms of equal participation and wellbeing of persons with disabilities, such as mobility, health and housing.