Walker Moir (65), who lives in Stenhousemuir, has had sight loss since 2018 as a result of several eye conditions, including macular degeneration. He has no vision in his right eye and little sight remaining in his left eye.
Now his sight loss makes navigating independently more difficult, particularly when it comes to taking public transport, the army veteran is speaking out in support of Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans’ Fair Rail Vision campaign.
Since ScotRail is now in public ownership, the charities launched a petition calling for the establishment of a new national rail travel policy for Scotland which would
enable free rail travel across Scotland for any holder of a National (Scotland) Concessionary Travel for Blind Persons card and their companion.
Walker, who served with the Royal Engineers from 1977 to 1980, said: “I think a new policy to bring in consistency across the local authorities would be a great thing. It
would make a big difference for blind and partially sighted people who need to travel with a companion.
"It would be a bit of freedom for me as well, because I can’t possibly travel by train by myself. Sight loss impacts everything. I can’t see colours and mostly see light and shadows now.
"A train station can be echoey and bright, and it’s so busy – people do walk into you. When it comes to being able to see the boards to check the trains and platforms,
for me that’s impossible.
"The gaps between the train and the platform can be quite scary – the gap sizes are different at different stations. It is overwhelming. Being able to have a companion
travel with you for train travel is like night and day.
"When I’m travelling with my wife as support, she is my eyes and I’m more confident. I’m not worrying that I’m going to trip or fall over somebody’s luggage.”
Sight Scotland chief executive Craig Spalding added: “We are calling for all local authorities in Scotland to work with the Scottish Government to make local travel
networks as accessible and affordable as possible for blind and partially sighted people and their companions.
“So many visually impaired people rely on the rail network to get around, and problems with accessibility create a real barrier to independent travel. Travelling with a companion can make a real difference for visually impaired people, providing support which is vital for many blind and partially sighted people to be able to use rail services safely and with confidence.
“A new national policy which would enable free rail travel across Scotland for any holder of a National (Scotland) Concessionary Travel for Blind Persons card and their companion would be a huge step forward for an inclusive Scotland.”
People can visit the website for more information and to read and possibly sign the Sight Scotland and Sight Scotland Veterans’ Fair Rail Vision petition.