E-scooters are biggest street obstacle for people with visual impairment

E-scooters are biggest street obstacle for people with visual impairment
Credit: The Brussels Times/Helen Lyons

New means of transport, such as shared e-scooters, are the most significant obstacle that people with visual impairments encounter on the streets, the Braille League has found following a survey.

Released on the occasion of Braille League Week (which this year focuses on mobility) the results showed that over 90% of the 664 respondents said they experience obstacles on public roads. The most problematic is scattered scooters. Frustration is especially marked in the Brussels-Capital Region, where visually impaired people must compete with poor paving surfaces, advertising signs, rubbish bags and litter.

"Mobility is still one of the biggest obstacles to independence so that blind or visually impaired people can fully participate in society," the League said, calling for better regulation.

A real danger

Electric vehicles can also cause inconvenience: almost 80% of respondents indicated that they are 'often' or 'sometimes' inconvenienced by electric bikes, 67% by electric scooters and 65% by electric buses, cars and taxis. The Braille League recommends making those electric vehicles more audible, as they pose "a real danger" to visually impaired passengers.

While the survey shows that much has been achieved at the political level and on public transport in 10 years, some problems persist. For instance, more aids on the streets need to be added such as textured tiles, information signs in braille, push buttons that vibrate and make noise to drown out traffic noise and better-lit pavements.

Similar to its survey in 2013, public transport was said to be the most important means of getting around for blind or visually impaired people: over 73% of respondents took public transport in 2022.

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Just over half feel it meets their needs, though there are big differences between regions and provinces. Brussels scores best among its residents. Satisfaction is also above average in the provinces of Namur, Antwerp and Flemish Brabant. In the province of Luxembourg, only 11% are satisfied.

In addition to public transport, most of those surveyed also regularly make use of a car, thanks to volunteers or family members willing to drive them. Other transport options include the social taxi, a regular taxi and the STIB taxi bus.

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