FWD Life Insurance’s ‘The Talkable Bus Shelter’ Campaign Addresses Pain Points and Promotes Equality

Traveling is an integral aspect of daily life for everyone. For most people, especially the general public, commuting by bus is a routine occurrence. However, for the visually impaired, navigating public transportation poses significant challenges. Due to their limitations, traveling requires considerable effort. Recognizing the need for social equity, FWD Life Insurance Plc. (FWD Insurance), in collaboration with GREYNJ UNITED, launched the innovative “Talkable Bus Shelter” campaign. This campaign aimed to address the difficulties faced by the visually impaired by introducing creative solutions that combine technology and ingenuity. The result was the development of an “intelligent sound system” designed to enhance the lives of the visually impaired by facilitating their access to public services. This system alerts them to upcoming buses, enabling them to prepare to board and safely reach their destinations.


Addressing Pain Points: Research Findings and Collaborative Solutions 

FWD Insurance conducted thorough research, drawing insights from a report on the situation of visually impaired individuals in Thailand by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Development and Human Security. The report revealed that as of March 31, 2023, Thailand is home to 184,622 visually impaired individuals who rely on transportation as part of their daily lives. Additionally, data from in-depth interviews with visually impaired individuals, overseen by the Foundation for the Blind in Thailand, underscored a common challenge: many visually impaired individuals opt for daily bus travel but often struggle to identify their desired bus lines. Following the official launch of the campaign around the end of the previous year at 10 strategically located bus stops frequented by visually impaired individuals, covering 46 bus routes, FWD Insurance collaborated with Homerun Consulting, a research consultancy, to conduct further in-depth research and interviews. The findings reaffirmed the persistent pain points faced by visually impaired individuals, including instances where buses they were waiting for failed to stop, particularly when no other passengers were present. Moreover, many visually impaired individuals expressed difficulty seeking assistance or inquiries from others. Consequently, the implementation of an intelligent sound system at bus stops emerged as a crucial solution, alerting individuals to upcoming buses and enabling them to prepare for boarding.


Navigating Transportation Challenges: Insights from Real Users

Reflecting on the experiences of real users reveals the challenges encountered by visually impaired individuals when traveling. According to a respondent from Homerun, the difficulties are multifaceted. Firstly, when waiting at a bus stop, visually impaired individuals often struggle to identify the approaching bus or determine if it is the one they are waiting for. This leads to uncertainty and reliance on others for assistance, which can be time-consuming and inconsistent. Additionally, there is no way to ascertain the arrival time of the desired bus, resulting in unpredictable waits and missed opportunities. Moreover, even when assistance is sought, the helper may depart before the bus arrives, leaving the visually impaired individual in a state of aimless waiting and dependence on successive strangers for aid. However, the introduction of the ‘Talkable Bus Shelter’ addresses these concerns effectively. By providing real-time information on bus arrivals, the intelligent sound system enables visually impaired individuals to manage their time efficiently and independently. This not only enhances their travel experience but also fosters a sense of empowerment and self-reliance. Importantly, the benefits extend beyond the visually impaired community, benefiting all travelers who value accessibility and convenience in public transportation.


Findings from the survey report indicate that 84 percent of service users were either aware of or had heard about the campaign, with an impressive 94 percent having utilized the service. The gender distribution among users stood at 53 percent male and 47 percent female, with an average age of 38 years. Most users, up to 50 percent, were employed in selling lottery tickets, followed by massage therapists, association administrative officers, and various other professions. Users typically commute by bus between home and work, averaging eight trips per week, with five of those trips occurring along their regular route. The report highlighted overwhelmingly positive sentiments, with users expressing appreciation for the attention to their needs and the positive experience derived from the intelligent sound system implemented at the Talkable Bus Shelter. This system significantly enhances accessibility to public services for the visually impaired, allowing them ample time to prepare for boarding and ensuring they board the correct bus line, thus reducing travel expenses. Furthermore, users reported feeling a sense of self-reliance, no longer needing to rely on others for assistance, and avoiding inconveniencing those around them. Encouraged by their own positive experiences, users actively encouraged other visually impaired individuals to utilize the Talkable Bus Shelter, recognizing its role in promoting equity within society. Additionally, there was a suggestion to extend the intelligent sound system to buses, providing real-time information on current and upcoming stops, akin to systems found on electric trains. Furthermore, users expressed interest in the development of a dedicated application tailored specifically for the visually impaired, aimed at providing timely notifications and further enhancing their travel experience.

“The survey report from the ‘Talkable Bus Shelter’ campaign affirm its role as a pivotal step towards fostering equity. Beyond mere awareness, our concerted efforts have translated into tangible actions. Through comprehensive field surveys and feedback analysis, we have gained invaluable insights for further refinement. As an organization championing diversity, equity, and inclusion, FWD Insurance takes pride in our contribution to alleviating the challenges faced by visually impaired individuals on public transportation. This initiative stands as a testament to our commitment to societal betterment, enhancing the quality of life for the visually impaired, and facilitating their daily travel. We remain steadfast in our mission to reduce inequality and continually create societal benefits, aligning with FWD Insurance’s goal of enabling all members of Thai society to live life to the fullest, unburdened by unnecessary concerns,” explained Pavarisa Chumvigrant, Chief Marketing Officer of FWD Life Insurance Plc.