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Bus drivers to experience travel like passengers with sight loss

Stagecoach West Scotland employees will take part in a training session today as part of the bus operator’s pledge to make its services more accessible to blind and partially sighted people.

The company, which operates throughout west Scotland, will hold a "swap-with-me" event to give its drivers a better idea of what everyday travel is like for passengers with sight loss.

Stagecoach has signed a charter from sight loss charity RNIB that commits to meeting the needs of passengers with a visual impairment.

This includes approaching bus stops more slowly so people have time to make out the number and route, not pulling away from stops before passengers with sight loss have found a seat, and letting them know when they arrive at their destination.

Alison McCluskie, operations director for Stagecoach West Scotland, said: “Stagecoach West Scotland is eager to make its fleet accessible to passengers with different abilities and welcome the opportunity to work with RNIB Scotland on this event.”

At today's event at Ayr Bus Station, drivers will don special 'sim specs' that simulate different eye conditions and experience first-hand the barriers that blind and partially sighted passengers face when travelling, while people with sight loss will get a chance to sit upfront in the cab and engage with those boarding the bus from the driver’s perspective

James Adams, director of RNIB Scotland, said: "It's great that Stagecoach West Scotland has embraced our campaign. Bus travel can be a life-line for blind and partially sighted people, who rely on buses more than most because they are unable to drive and taxis are too expensive for everyday journeys.

"We think if drivers are more aware of the problems people with sight loss face they will take that extra bit of time to ensure they can make their journey confidently."

There are around 170,000 people in Scotland with significant sight loss, a number likely to increase in the next two decades due to our ageing population.

Stagecoach West Scotland has 395 buses and 766 drivers.