Drivers get up to speed with sensory loss
(Issued in partnership with Forth Valley Sensory Centre.)
First Bus drivers in Falkirk will be getting up to speed with sensory loss on November 30th as local deaf and blind people help them understand what it is like to use public transport without being able to see or hear properly.
Organised by Forth Valley Sensory Centre and the First Midland Bluebird team from the nearby depot in Larbert, a stand at Falkirk Bus Station is to be closed off between 10am and 12pm so that drivers can come along and experience sensory loss for themselves.
Centre Manager Jacquie Winning said: “Many of our Centre Users are public transport users and they rely heavily on bus services to get around town, do shopping, meet friends and family or simply visit our Centre each week, so making sure they have the best possible journey is really important to them, us and First Midland Bluebird.
“Things have moved on a lot in the last few years and buses have become much more accessible. Things are still not perfect though and it is great that First Midland Bluebird is continuing to educate and train staff to make sure all communities in the area receive the same high standard of service.”
Drivers will be asked to board buses using special ‘simulation glasses’ to replicate different eye conditions and sight loss. They will also be given headphones from Silent Knights, to reduce their hearing and allow them to try to lip read “deaf” customers. The training is being supported by a number of Centre Users who are regular customers on the buses.
Larbert Depot Operations Manager, Jason Hackett said: “First Midland Bluebird is always looking for new ways to improve services and make sure our drivers have the best possible training. We have a number of processes in place already to assist disabled customers, whether they have a sensory loss or not, however, there is no such thing as being too prepared and experiences like this really help people understand just how much more difficult it can be to do things others take for granted.
“Boarding a bus is a good example of this and we want to ensure our drivers do everything necessary to assist customers and make their journey as easy as possible, by following just a few simple steps.”
Members of the public are also invited to find out more about the First Bus Safe Journey Card and what is on offer at Forth Valley Sensory Centre for people with sensory loss as well as their carers, friends and families.
Pictured above (left to right): Alan Anderson (Driver and Volunteer at Forth Valley Sensory Centre); Kenny Burt (Larbert Depot Staff Manager); Sandy MacKay (Driver); Gordon McNeil with Guide Dog Riley; Errol Grant with Guide Dog Piper; Jacquie Winning (Forth Valley Sensory Centre Manager); Jason Hackett (Larbert Operations Manager)