Blind people in Darlington swap with Arriva bus drivers for the day
A group of blind and partially sighted people swapped places with bus drivers in Darlington yesterday (Thursday 28 November) to demonstrate the barriers they face when travelling on buses.
The event was run by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Arriva from its Darlington Bus Depot. It aimed to build awareness and understanding between drivers and bus users and explore ways of making bus transport more accessible.
Staff from Arriva were given sim specs that simulate various eye conditions and took part in tasks, such as trying to board a bus and paying for a ticket. The blind and partially sighted people who attended were also given the opportunity to sit in the bus driver’s seat to understand what the driver can hear above the general chatter of a bus full of people.
RNIB Regional Campaigns Officer for the North East, Lewis Winton said: “Blind and partially sighted people rely on public transport to get to work, visit friends and family, and be part of the community. Buses in particular are a vital lifeline that brings independence to many people with sight loss.
“This event was a fantastic opportunity for bus drivers and Arriva staff to gain insight into what travel with a vision impairment might be like, while also helping blind and partially sighted people understand what challenges bus drivers face. We hope that this will help make services even more inclusive and accessible for all.”
Nick Knox, area managing director of Arriva North East, said: “I’d like to thank the RNIB and everyone involved for taking the time to share their experiences with Arriva North East and our drivers.
“We are committed to providing accessible transport for all and this recent training has been a positive step forward in increasing our understanding of our blind and partially sighted customers’ needs.”
Arriva is one of the largest bus operators in the UK who have signed up to the RNIB’s Bus Charter, which commits it to further improving services for blind and partially sighted people and ensuring that services are as accessible as possible. The RNIB Bus Charter comprises of 13 pledges, including ensuring that drivers assist blind and partially sighted customers by stopping for them, and explaining what service they are, and what the destination is. Other elements of the charter include making sure that bus information is accessible for people, while also making sure sight loss awareness is built into driver training modules.
Mr Winton added: “We are really impressed with Arriva's willingness to make improvements for their blind and partially sighted passengers and are delighted that they are continuing to support the charter through such events as the one at Darlington.”