East London Vision demonstrate visual impairment simulators to Arriva London drivers at Accessibility Awareness forum
We take very seriously our commitment to customer service, and none more so than for people with disabilities.
Working in partnership with TfL, we have been running a series of Accessibility Awareness forums at all our garages across London, and most recently at Becontree Heath bus station, where guests from East London Vision (ELVis), which supports people with sight loss, spoke with our drivers about their experiences travelling on buses and discussed how we can help improve their journey experience.
"It was really good," said Richard Pincombe, driver, Hello London champion and acting garage supervisor at our Barking garage. "We had a bus on the forecourt, we put up posters and invited drivers to join us to have a chat about different aspects of accessibility for those passengers with a visual impairment and wheelchair users, and the different problems they face."
Masuma Ali and Bhavini Makwana from ELVis brought simulation glasses for drivers to try on and experience how different eye conditions impact vision.
"You go through life doing your own thing and you really don’t know what other people face," said Richard. "They explained, for instance, how hard it is for them to find the bell button, and how people say things like 'there's a seat there', but they can’t see it. The simulation glasses showed the effects on vision of different conditions including cataracts, macular degeneration, tunnel vision, hemianopia and diabetic eye disease."
Other subjects discussed included the different types of canes carried by visually-impaired people, and how drivers can help them. One of their biggest challenges is when there is more than one bus serving the bus stop where they are standing. As they cannot see, they rely on drivers to call out the bus route numbers so they know which buses are at the stop.
Another challenge faced is the introduction of hybrid vehicles, as they are much quieter and sometimes a visually impaired customer isn’t aware the bus is as at the stop.
Richard added "My colleagues and I found it very informative. It was a two-way exchange, and we helped them gain a better understanding. For example, we explained that compulsory stops no longer exist. It was a great way of bringing people together so that they could understand what each other face."
"The outcome of the meeting was very positive," said Bhavini. "It's always a pleasure to work with organisations like TfL and Arriva London to help improve the quality of travel for people living with sight loss and other disabilities."