‘Swap with me’ in Oxford

A group of visually impaired people swapped places with drivers from the Oxford Bus Company recently in an event intended to demonstrate the barriers the blind and partially sighted face when travelling on buses. The ‘Swap with me’ event is part of the Royal National Institute for the Blind’s (RNIB) bus campaign, which calls on operators to remember one principle: Stop for me, Speak to me. Whilst wearing glasses that simulate blindness, drivers took part in tasks such as trying to board a bus and paying for a ticket.

Oxford Bus Company’s Operations Director, Phil Southall, said, ‘Oxford Bus Company has gone out of its way over the years to make its services accessible to everyone. We routinely host events at our Cowley House headquarters so that passengers with mobility issues can try the best ways of boarding and leaving our buses. When the RNIB asked us to host this event we were delighted to help. All our drivers have regular disability awareness training and the “Stop for me, Speak to me” slogan should reinforce the message that Oxford Bus services are for everyone.’

To join the campaign, visit http://www.rnib.org.uk/bus or call RNIB on 020 7391 2123.

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‘Swap with Me’ in Hull

A group of blind and partially sighted people have taken part in an event that saw them swap places with bus drivers in Hull to demonstrate the barriers they face when travelling on buses. The event was part of the Royal National Institute of Blind People’s (RNIB) recently launched bus campaign: Stop for me, Speak to me. It was a joint event between RNIB, Hull and East Riding Institute for the Blind (HERIB), ViAbility, Hull City Council, East Yorkshire Motor Services and Stagecoach. Entitled ‘Swap with Me’, it saw drivers take part in tasks such as trying to board a bus and paying for a ticket while blindfolded. By experiencing first hand the difficulties their visually impaired customers face, it is hoped it will prompt operators to take on board the campaign’s key asks.

EYMS Training Manager, Darren Kendrew, said, ‘This is an excellent opportunity to improve both the customer experience and our drivers’ understanding of how to meet the needs of all our customers, including those with sight loss.’

Operations Manager for Stagecoach in Hull, David Lee-Kong, said, ‘The “Swap with Me” event will build on the dedicated awareness training that all of our 300 strong driving team at Hull have already benefited from. This is also an excellent opportunity for our staff to answer any questions and offer reassurance to customers who rely on our network of services throughout the city.’

New station signs aid blind

ImageTrials of a new signage system for the blind and visually impaired have begun at Wolverhampton Bus Station. When activated, the Ariadne tactile map ‘talks’, telling users where they are within the station. Developed by Nexus Alpha Low Power Systems, it shows where local features such as offices, toilets, walls and doors are using Braille. Ariadne is fitted with technology automatically triggered by a person using a keyfob issued by the Royal National Institute for the Blind. The fobs can be used anywhere in the country to activate audio in real time information stands that have the facility. The system was named after the heroine in Greek mythology who helped Theseus navigate the labyrinth to slay the Minotaur. Patrons of the Beacon Centre for the Blind in Sedgley have been brought in to help the development team from West Midlands transport authority, Centro and Nexus Alpha.

Nexus Alpha Chief Operating Officer, Julian Coleman, said, ‘The Wolverhampton trial will help us refine and improve the system so that one day it can eventually be rolled out across the country, helping the blind and visually impaired find their way around. This is the first in the country and the help of the Beacon Centre and Centro has been invaluable.’