[bactttoma] Re: Ben Matthews. A sighted journalists observations of audio announcements on Victorian Public Transport services.

  • From: "Franklin Brent" <BFranklin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <bactttoma@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 3 May 2010 12:49:28 +1000

Hi,

Loved this article really had a few laughs, probably needs to get in
touch with the Victorian Taxi Directorate as well,

Brent. 

-----Original Message-----
From: bactttoma-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:bactttoma-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of steven taylor
Sent: Monday, 3 May 2010 10:51 AM
To: bactttoma@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [bactttoma] Re: Ben Matthews. A sighted journalists
observations of audio announcements on Victorian Public Transport
services.


Well maybe not Vision Australia, but would consider Blind Citizens
Australia for sure.

I was so tempted to send this to the vip-l list, but after last time,
forget it.

Don't agree with everything he said but it's a fairly accurate
assessment.

The method will be questioned I'll bet my house on it.

Sometimes sighted people have to adopt methods we may not agree with to
get a true sense of our situation.


On 03/05/2010, at 10:34 AM, steven taylor wrote:

> Ben Matthews.
> 
> This report is damning and the whole Victorian industry should hang
themselves in the public square as far as I am concerned.
> 
> I make no bones about it, I am sighted, I don't need audio
announcements, my sight is good enough to read printed boards, but I
would hate to lose my sight and have to rely on audio announcements
should I say the lack of audio announcements, and not to mention, the
lack of clarity with these so called live announcements.
> 
> Hang yourselves in the public square and be prepared to be flogged
Victorian Public Transport.
> 
> To successfully undertake this research, I bought a blind fold because
I wanted to know what it would be like to have to totally rely on audio
announcements.
> 
> I took no assistant with me which I usually do on this type of
research, again, I wanted to know what assistance I would get as a blind
person.
> 
> I should mention I peeped a few times that is a habit of somebody who
knows they have sight at the end of the day.
> 
> I didn't use the white cane given by Vision Australia, I don't like
pretending I am blind, so adopted a crude design of my own, making it
fairly obvious I wasn't really blind, because the last thing I needed
was some sticky nose member of the public having me arrested and Vision
Australia getting bad press.
> 
> So prepared to take a v-line journey and took a train to Bendigo from
Southern Cross.
> 
> All was going well, until the live audio announcement which was in
such poor english telling me of a last minute switch of platforms, a
common thing for v-line to do these days.
> 
> Ok peeped enough to get there, wasn't prepared to miss the train, I
needed it for the research and I had deadlines to meet even though I am
a freelance journalist.
> 
> Eventually got on the train, got an audio announcement from the train
conductor when it departed to tell us where this train was going and
what stations it would stop.
> 
> That was the first and last audio announcement we got, nothing for the
rest of the trip.
> 
> Didn't even see the conductor or hear her checking tickets so if I was
getting off in Woodend, would have had no idea where it was being blind,
but blind people tell me they can count stops and count the times they
hear doors opening.
> 
> Well fair enough, but what they didn't tell anyone was the train
stopped at Footscray and yes I admit it, I peeped but imagine if I
couldn't and I was counting?
> 
> I would have lost count for sure I think.
> 
> Train eventually arrived in Bendigo again no audio to tell me this, I
figured this out thanks to another passengers help, but god only knows
what would have happened if I was permanently blind and the carriage was
empty.
> 
> So took the trip back to Melbourne, same conductor, same lack of audio
announcements, but this time the tickets were checked.
> 
> I decided to put her to the test.
> 
> We were stopping in Castlemain, so asked her if she would come and
assist me when we got there.
> 
> She did not turn up for assistance and at Woodend she apologised and
assured me she would have me back on the next train, I told her to
forget it.
> 
> But to bad if I really wanted that stop and to bad if my brother was
expecting me to be there to drive me to his house, what a joke.
> 
> Got back to Southern Cross and decided to go and complain.
> 
> The gentlemen couldn't understand english I complained too but we
eventually sorted it out that he would report this complaint to his
supervisor.
> 
> Time to see if he did and no he never went to his supervisor.
> 
> So waited until the end of his shift and followed him to a car.
> 
> Hey mate, you didn't tell the supervisor about my complaint buddy.
> 
> No sorry, I forgot, I am going home now and how blind are you?
> 
> I told him this wasn't about how blind I was or how blind I am, or how
blind I may be tonight or tomorrow, this was and is about you not doing
your job.
> 
> He got aggressive and told me to get lost, not exactly those words,
the english improved all of a sudden and threatened to call the police.
> 
> Not one for backing down, I got out my mobile phone and showed it to
him and said, here my pleasure, call them.
> 
> He got in his car and took off like the wind and I had to get out of
the way or risk injury or being killed.
> 
> Time to find his supervisor.
> 
> V-line were not exactly helpful with this matter, but eventually
tracked down this supervisor and handed him my written complaint.
> 
> All I got is an apology, no assurances anything would or could be
done, not good enough but he told me to go to station manager office.
> 
> You bet I did too.
> 
> At the station managers office, had to wait 25 minutes for a woman who
got very irate the moment she saw me.
> 
> Oh it's you Matthews is it?
> 
> It's me Mr. Matthews or Ben is nicer thanks I said and now we need a
serious talk.
> 
> She listened, took notes, took a copy of my complaint and assured me
she would speak to this conductor and the other 2 people as well and I
assured her, I would be around snooping to insure it happened and action
was taken.
> 
> She got the message and action was taken the next morning which I was
allowed to see without snooping.
> 
> After the action which was that this conductor was reprimanded the 2
gentlemen were spoken too but nothing happened to them, time for me to
catch a metro train and experience the next part of my research.
> 
> So took a train to Frankston I have a favourite fish and chip shop I
like there for lunch.
> 
> The train was packed in all carriages, but I eventually found a seat
in the last carriage with I admit a lot of peeping.
> 
> All the audio announcements were working well until we got to
Caulfield.
> 
> After that, they were spasmodic which is the only fair description I
can give.
> 
> The announcements when they did happen were clear enough however and
we were told the train was terminating when we got to Frankston.
> 
> Went and had my lunch and took a walk around and headed back to the
train station.
> 
> Got the train and low and behold, absolutely no audio announcements at
all.
> 
> Thinking that it was only for this carriage I was in, went and
observed other carriages, but nothing happened with audio announcements,
it was one of the newer trains.
> 
> At Flinders Street, decided to speak to the train driver to see what
happened to be told he forgot altogether and wasn't sure it was working
anyway.
> 
> I know a fair bit about train driving so asked him where this train
was now going to be told it was a Packingham service.
> 
> I asked if I could accompany him in the cabin he obliged even though
this is against regulations.
> 
> We took off and I had decided I was getting off at Richmond, we were
going through the loop first.
> 
> I discovered the button where I thought it would be and pressed it
just before Southern Cross.
> 
> Sure enough it worked and the announcement was even heard in the
cabin.
> 
> I got off at Richmond and next morning headed in to the office where
you complain about train drivers.
> 
> The man was genuinely disturbed and said it wasn't good enough.  He
wasn't happy to hear I broke regulations, but when I told him why and
what I did and what I said to the driver he was actually pleased.
> 
> Well, the action was this driver has been terminated but I found out
this was because of a whole lot of stuff and not just because of what I
did or didn't do.
> 
> Time for a tram ride today.
> 
> Have trams ever heard of audio announcements?
> 
> Most of them are fully equipped for it no doubts about that, but if
blind people get audio announcements on trams, I would like to know
which ones and when, because I found one tram in all the hundreds on the
roads.
> 
> And it was an 86 tram I was using to go to an interview in Thornbury
with a woman having housing commission trouble.
> 
> Oh but get this.  As soon as we left Spring Street the announcements
stopped altogether.
> 
> Just as well there were passengers and I was close to the driver for
shouting, otherwise, with the blind fold on and without peeping, I would
have had no idea at all.
> 
> The driver was kind enough to announce stop 38 where I was going
however.
> 
> If you take a bus as a blind person, you can forget audio
announcements, they don't exist at all.
> 
> Now for travellers aid.
> 
> An extremely good service no doubts about it and they insisted I stay
with them till they were sure the train was at its right platform, seems
to be the only safe solution if you are permanently blind.
> 
> As far as Metro trains go, some train stations have no staff, so
unless you have what is called good orientation and mobility skills, you
can forget about assistance there is none for some stations.
> 
> Worse still, I found at least 17 train stations with no tactile ground
indicators at all not even on the platform edge, go figure.
> 
> Not to mention, of all the stations I searched, only 3 working public
telephone boxes, and only one unstaffed station with any assistance.
> 
> If you are permanently blind, insure you have a mobile phone for sure.
> 
> Finally, time for a taxi.
> 
> The whole industry is a joke here even for sighted people and god only
knows how blind people don't get ripped off, and not to mention drivers
who look absolutely nothing like their drivers identification
photographs.
> 
> The final test.
> 
> Don't attempt this without permission from a dog guide service
provider.
> 
> Took a pr dog in a harness to a taxi rank to wait there for a cab.
> 
> Driver pulls up looks around and takes off.
> 
> Second car pulls up looks around asks me where I am going and asks me
for dog card.
> 
> I take out dog card, he looks at this, says no I can't take you and
drives off.
> 
> Third driver pulls up x pommy from England only to happy to
accommodate the dog guide and I tell him I am taking it back to where I
got the dog from.
> 
> No worries we go their, but I am trying to resist the feeling of
peeping at the fair.
> 
> I resist it and when we get there with little hold up in traffic he
tells me the fair and it's reasonable so pay the money.
> 
> I want to repeat this exercise at another rank so do so.
> 
> Get to rank with dog guide and driver pulls up and takes dog but makes
no secret he's unhappy with taking dog.
> 
> I got sick of this so paid him the fair and the tip to get out of
there and got another cab only to find this driver was a woman even
though the identification looked like a bloke.
> 
> What's going on here?
> 
> I am driving for my brother.
> 
> No, you aren't any more, we are going to the police station you take
me there right now.
> 
> She complies and I found out since this driver lost his licence.
> 
> One more repeat of this exercise.
> 
> First time lucky, get a driver happy to take dog, even wants to give
me a free ride and believe it or not Indian as well.
> 
> I'm not going to refuse a free ride and he was as good as his word and
didn't go down 50 streets either.
> 
> So the taxis are a hit and miss affair all round.
> 
> How do you blind people do this and every day?
> 
> I am sending this report to the newspapers, have contacts in the Age
who will no doubt publish it even if it is edited.
> 
> Hang your heads in shame Victorian Public Transport, you are supposed
to care for passenger safety, and god only knows how these blind people
are not killed because of your negligence.
> 
> If there is a brave blind person out there, this calls for a test
court case, something I am happy to help with costs for paying.
> 
> Is there a brave blind person out there that will do this and take
Vision Australia and Blind Citizens Australia down with this action.  I
know of one only.
> 
> Shame on all of them.
> 
> Ben Matthews.
> 
> 
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