Arriva signs the way to better customer service

Drivers at Arriva’s Ascot Drive depot have undertaken training in basic sign language to help them communicate better with hearing-impaired customers.

The initiative, which was led by driver June Jones, saw the local team learn key phrases and words which would assist them in helping any passengers with hearing loss buy the right tickets, or find their way to their desired destination, as well as simply making them feel more at ease and safe whilst travelling on board.

June, who classes her first language as BSL due to both her parents and other members of her family being deaf, said she hoped the training would help her colleagues be more open-minded and aware of non-verbal communication skills like eye and hand coordination and body language.

She said: “Knowing that I am able help deaf people travel by bus is a big personal achievement for me – I have found that being able to sign has helped me in my job as it has meant that I am more able to communicate with everyone who needs my assistance.

“Over the last year I have passed my Level One and Level Two qualifications to ensure that I am able to do BSL to the correct standard, and it’s great to now be able to now pass these skills on to the team. Training the other drivers in basic BSL will hopefully change their views of deafness and hearing impairment. Having these skills have helped me a lot over many, many years, and I’m sure they will also help boost other’s patience and give them a new-found confidence and empathy.”

Raj Chander, General Manager for Derby, added: “Bus travel is designed to offer greater independence and flexibility for it’s users, but if some sections of the community are put off from using that service because they are perhaps concerned that they won’t be understood, then there is definitely more that we can be doing to encourage people on board.

“June is such an asset to the driving team here in Derby, as she has such a wonderful way with our customers. When she offered to help train the other members of our team to use BSL, we were delighted as we know that it is a positive move forward in ensuring we are as inclusive as we possibly can be. We really hope that this project will ensure many more people feel secure when choosing to travel with us.”

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