Stagecoach bus drivers take part in blindfolded experiment in King’s Lynn to learn what it is like to be visually-impaired
- Credit: Ian Burt
Bus company staff took part in a blindfolded experiment to find out the challenges faced visually-impaired passengers on public transport.
Stagecoach workers were made to wear a blindfold and find their way on a bus, before locating an empty seat. The experiment was conducted by the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association in order to raise the importance of audio and visual (AV) announcements on buses, as well as provide tips to drivers on how to assist people with sight difficulties.
Helen Sismore, Guide Dogs for the Blind Association community engagement officer for East Anglia, said communication is key when it comes to making public transport more accessible for disabled people.
She said: 'It's really important for blind and partially-sighted people to feel safe when getting on or off the bus, and part of that is about communication.
'They can't hop in the car and have no other option but to get on public transport so we need to make them more accessible for all.
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'It's about all of your passengers, no matter what their disabilities are, and finding out what their needs are.'
Bus drivers undergo a similar test as part of their professional training but Stagecoach driver Howard Yelland said the experiment was still difficult, adding: 'The worst part is finding your feet, I wouldn't want to go up the stairs with this blindfold on.
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'I have learnt that it is difficult for visually impaired people to get around and bus drivers should be more mindful of that.'
Guide dog user Jill Southgate, 61, has been blind since she was 18 after a car accident but has Yasmin the Labrador to help her.
Despite getting on the bus twice a week to commute to work at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Mrs Southgate still faces difficulties which she said can be alleviated with AV announcements.
Mrs Southgate said: 'AV would help greatly. Without it you're trying to visualise where you are and trying to remember the route. When you've missed your stop it's a bit awkward, I come back to the bus station and go round again.'
Mrs Southgate said bus drivers should help blind people with directions on finding a seat, adding: 'I cannot see anything at all and I'm going through with my arm out. When I touch people it can be quite intrusive.'
If you require assistance at King's Lynn bus station, call the control room on 01553 763190