December 21 2013 Latest news:
By Lauren Rogers
Thursday, September 5, 2013
Blind and partially sighted bus passengers used blindfolds to demonstrate to bus drivers the barriers they face on a daily basis.
Drivers swapped places with passengers during a special event at the First depot in Caister Road, Great Yarmouth this week, part of an RNIB campaign calling on bus operators to think twice about passenger disabilities.
The event was designed to show local drivers how blind and partially sighted passengers cope, and often struggle, with public transport, especially when calling for a bus to stop or getting off buses that do not pull up next to the bus stop.
A recent RNIB survey showed nine out of 10 people with some form of full or partial sight loss cannot see an approaching bus in time to hail it, while six out of 10 said buses which stopped away from official stops resulted in them stepping into hazards such as lamp-posts or bins or missing the bus altogether.
At the depot on Tuesday, First drivers experienced a few of the problems blind and partially sighted passengers face when they tried boarding buses and paying for tickets by wearing blindfolds or glasses that simulated certain types of sight loss.
Emily Papaleo, RNIB regional campaigns officer for the East of England, said it was a hugely successful event, with positive outcomes.
“Local bus travel is a lifeline, providing an important means of transport within the community for those who are not able to drive.
“Catching a bus should not be a sight test.”
Siobhan Meade of Gorleston, is an RNIB volunteer campaign coordinator who called on First to take part in the event.
“The event went brilliantly,” she said. “It gave me the opportunity to discuss and put forward suggestions to the drivers to help in travelling around and accessing buses. “The buses are a lifeline for me. Also it gave drivers and other members of staff a chance to experience travel from my perspective as a totally blind bus passenger.”
The message of the RNIB campaign is: Stop for me, Speak to me.
Driver Mark Lloyd said: “I found it useful to experience what it’s like from a blind passenger’s point of view and to try and understand some of the issues they face. It is hard to really understand it unless you experience it.
“One thing that stood out is how difficult it is to hear a bus approaching; I’ll make sure I stop when I see a passenger with sight loss as I understand they can’t see me.
“I’ll encourage colleagues to be more vigilant about passengers with sight loss. Days like today bring the issue to the foreground and make you think about how you’ll manage it within your job.”
RNIB said the Yarmouth event was so well received – with Guide Dogs for the Blind, Norfolk & Norwich Association for the Blind, RNIB and the Yarmouth Visually Impaired People (VIP) group attending – that a similar day will be held in Norwich at a date to be confirmed.