York SLC meets with bus drivers to help increase accessibility of travel

Blind and partially sighted people met with drivers and managers at bus operator First York on Wednesday 19 Oct. The aim was to discuss further ways to help and support people’s travel needs, increase accessibility and encourage a return to bus use after the pandemic.

Members of York Sight Loss Council (SLC) demonstrated special glasses (sim specs) that simulate a range of eye diseases and conditions. These glasses show the challenges blindness and poor eyesight create for day-to-day travel on public transport.

York Sight Loss Council, funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust, is led by blind and partially sighted members. Together, they tackle local issues and work with businesses and service providers to improve the accessibility of their services.

York SLC was joined by My Sight York. 1,200 people in York are currently registered as blind or partially sighted.

York Sight Loss Council members share their experiences to increase accessibility

Iain Mitchell, Senior Engagement Manager for York Sight Loss Council, was joined by SLC members Verity Peat with her guide dog Ted, and Josie Clarke. They both shared experiences of using the bus network and explained the type of assistance they need.

York Sight Loss Council members Verity (with her guide dog Ted) and Josie Clarke on a bus at the First Bus - York bus depot training school 19 October 2022. Josie is sat on a seat and holding a white cane. Verity is walking down the centre of the bus with her guide dog.

York Sight Loss Council members Verity (with her guide dog Ted) and Josie Clarke at First York.


Iain Mitchell said: “Today’s Meet the Bus event will help blind and partially sighted people to rebuild their confidence to use public transport after the pandemic and help increase accessibility.

“We are grateful to First York for their work and dedication in enabling this event to happen. This is an excellent example of partnership working to help make transport accessible for others.”

Impact on hearing lived experience on increasing accessibility

Keith Sheard, the lead Training and Recruitment Manager at First York, was supported by colleagues running the training school next to the James Street depot. He was joined by two trainee drivers who are mid-way through their course to become qualified.

He said: “We have built a lot of content about accessibility into our driver training, but it is invaluable to hear the lived experiences of blind and partially sighted people.

“The simulation glasses really helped to show us all what it can be like coping with limited sight when travelling on the bus. We will look to add some of the learning from today to refresh our training activity.”

Sight Loss Council member Verity Peat with her guide dog Ted walking up the aisle of a First York bus.

Sight Loss Council member Verity Peat, enjoys a tour of the bus with her guide dog Ted


York SLC also met up with others from charity, My Sight York, to enjoy a tour of the buses used by First York. This was to show how drivers interact with customers boarding, using the card reader and finding a seat.

First York also talked about on-bus technology such as audio visual (AV) next stop. This has been available on the all-electric Park & Ride fleet since its introduction in July 2020. It is now being specified as standard on all new vehicles ordered by the operator.

Some new buses fitted with AV are due to appear on the network in the coming weeks.

Join York Sight Loss Council

York Sight Loss Council is looking for new members. If you are blind and partially sighted, live in York and want to improve services for visually impaired people in your area, we want to hear from you.

Join us

Publication date: 21 October 2022

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