Stop for me, Speak to me
RNIB Bus campaign
On Wednesday 31st July 2013, RNIB staff, campaigners and members gathered in Oxfordshire.
We were there as part of the great Stop for me, Speak to me Bus Campaign, and out hosts was the Oxford Bus Company.
This is a regional company that in addition running local services offer airport and commuter services into London as well as park and ride schemes for the local council.
There was a bus to meet us as we gathered at Oxford Railway Station and which transferred us to the company’s garage outside of the town center.
It was thankfully a glorious day and we were able to meet drivers, instructors and senior managers in the yard / garage bay where a number of buses had been made available for both the drivers and the SVI (blind/ Partially sighted) to swap places and live in each others shoes for a short time.
The Oxford Bus company as part of its initial and ongoing training of staff uses various simulation specs to enlighten the staff, however, it would seem this was the first time they had been able to interact with actual disabled people and to ask questions.
I lost track of how many times as questions started with the words “ I don’t want to upset you but could I ask? Or “I don’t mean to be offensive but could I ask?”
It took a while for them to accept we are thick skinned and don’t offend easily (well most of us anyway)
Whilst we took the opportunity to sit in the drivers seat and try to talk to / understand passengers boarding, and this company doesn’t as a norm use anti-spit screens so there is less of a barrier it was still hard;
Figure 1Paul Bryce RNIB Trustee *drives a bus*
Figure 2 Still in the Yard but Paul is eager to go
For some reason, Paul who is congenitally blind wasn’t allowed to actually drive / move the bus, some matter about insurance I understand!! So the residents and visitors to Oxford were safe.
The crews were eager to learn about our world, how we cross the road (they didn’t know about the magic button) and with “fear & trepidation” bought some laughter too. They asked about dealing with cash machines and were fascinated by our Talking ATM success, they tried long cane and walking with a guide dog.
The bottom line for me
A very successful day where we all improved our mutual understanding of the challenges we face in our every days lives and I have little doubt the information gathered by the bus company will further improve the good service they already deliver for the benefit of VI and all passengers.