Map reading? Forget it! I have to find my way around a city by other means. When I planned a recent trip to London, I was able to find my destination and arrive there on time. There were some strategies that helped me. So I’d like to tell you about them here. I hope you might be able to use them to travel with confidence and success.
- I found out which bus to take, using the local travel website
I knew my journey in London would start from King’s Cross train station. I wanted to use the bus (rather than the underground) to reach my destination because you can see where you’re going from a bus, especially the upper deck.
So I needed to find out which bus route to take, and how often it ran. For that, I used the Transport for London website, which I found extremely dyslexia-friendly. Here’s the route diagram I used: https://tfl.gov.uk/bus/route/91.
To find the times you click on an arrowhead, like this >
And you can access the timetable from there. I was amazed at how easy I found it to read the times and timetable.
2. I located the bus stop, using a video and Google maps
Next, I had to work out where my stop was. I saw from the route diagram that it was called R. I needed to see a photo of the stop, rather than a map of it. So I googled ‘number 91 bus route + video’ and found a video of the bus route. It has a catchy soundtrack which made me feel positive about my journey!
The video let me work out where the bus stop was, in relation to the station.
Then I used Google maps in earth view to go for a virtual walk, from the train station to the bus stop. It was quite tricky to navigate but after some perseverance I managed to see my stop. That meant I knew exactly where it was and how to reach it.
3. I found out where to get off the bus, using a landmark / Google images
The stop I needed to get off at was the terminus of the route. It should have been easy. But I still managed to get off a stop early, and I know from using buses regularly that this is a common mistake people make. So I knew I’d need a landmark. I found one on Google maps (the National Gallery). Then I looked it up on Google images so I could recognise it when I saw it. I used it to find the right road for the walk to my final destination.
- You can’t pay your fare with coins or bank notes on London buses. You have to pay by contactless technology; or by Oyster Card (the travel pass for public transport in London). If you plan to pay by contactless check your bank card has the contactless icon on it.
- To complement any verbal instructions you are given, ask your contact for an aerial photo of the whole building with an arrow pointing to the exact entrance you’ve to use.
- Plan in plenty of extra time to your journey in case of delays or mistakes
- Ask someone for help to plan your journey if you need it. Be specific in what you ask for help with.
- Ask for help on your journey if you need it. If I tell someone I’m dyslexic before I ask them for help, they are more understanding and patient.
By an anonymous adult member of Dyslexia Scotland