Nottinghamshire SLC working to increase accessibility of transport

Nottinghamshire Sight Loss Council (SLC) is working with transport providers to increase the accessibility of services for blind and partially sighted people. As part of this work, SLC members recently met with Nottingham Express Transit (NET) to discuss the accessibility of tram travel across the county.

Sight Loss Councils across England are prioritising making transport accessible. This is because 65 per cent of blind and partially sighted (BPS) respondents told us it was most important to them (Listening month, 2022).

During the meeting, SLC members engaged in a round-table discussion with NET representatives to highlight some of the positives and negatives of the current service.

Positives include on-board audio announcements and the high-contrast upholstery and tram fittings. Members then shared their difficulties in reading ‘scrolling dot matrix’ information displays and the inaccessibility of on platform ticket machines.

Following this discussion, NET took SLC members on a short tram journey where staff demonstrated how to use help points and card reading machines.

We were unaware that help points could be used to ask general questions that we had considered too trivial.” 

Matt Harrison, Engagement Manager for East Midlands

SLC members found this invaluable and all report that this information has given them much greater confidence in being able to travel independently. NET also asked for feedback on their existing tactile paving and flooring around the help points.

To finish, members were shown the control room and met with on-board staff. This was a great opportunity for SLC members to share their experiences of tram travel to date.

Conor from NET, Engagement Manager Matt Harrison, and SLC members Kay and Sian, stood around a help point as Conor talks them through its use.

Nottinghamshire SLC members being shown how to use the help points on platforms with NET representative, Luke

What’s next?

NET has asked Nottinghamshire SLC to carry out an accessibility audit of their mobile app . If accessible, this could enable some BPS people to buy tickets online and negate the need to use the existing ticket machines.

NET has also expressed an interest in working with us to produce audio guides. These would support the use of the help points and provide general platform orientation.

SLC members felt it was a very positive day with lots of scope for future collaboration. They found NET to be very receptive and keen to increase the accessibility of their services. Many SLC members have said they feel more confident to use the tram service in the future.

SLC feedback

Matt Harrison, Engagement Manager for East Midlands, said:

“It was great to have the opportunity to sit around the table with NET and share our experiences as blind and partially sighted passengers.

“We certainly learned a lot from the team, and I hope that they learned a lot from us.

“It’s refreshing to work with a proactive organisation. It was obvious that they are keen to make tram travel as accessible and inclusive as possible.

“We look forward to collaborating with NET over the coming months to further enhance the passenger experience for blind and partially sighted people in Nottinghamshire.”

Nick Kirker, Nottinghamshire SLC member, said:

“It was a productive day where our ideas and thoughts were welcomed, understood, and are likely to be actioned.

“When I entered the meeting and saw five representatives from the NET Management Team sitting around the table, I expected to hear the usual explanations and excuses.

“It was pleasantly surprising to discover that all our problems were understood. The team eagerly and constructively looked for – and often suggested – the best solutions to overcome these.”

Nottinghamshire SLC member Sian, standing on the platform in front of the help point.

Sian, Nottinghamshire SLC member, using a help point on the platform

Kay Dear, Nottinghamshire SLC member, said:

“Our collaboration with NET is very positive. It shows that staff from the tram network take accessibility very seriously.

“Staff couldn’t have been more helpful on the day. One staff member offered to guide me, which was an entirely new experience for them.

“Above all else, the meeting has given me more confidence to be able to use the tram service independently in the future.”

Sian Petty, Nottinghamshire SLC member, added:

“I have never travelled on the trams before but after our meeting, now feel confident to travel on my own. Staff couldn’t do enough to support us, and they are going above and beyond to make tram travel accessible.”

Geoff Pickance, Nottinghamshire SLC member, finished by saying:

“As someone who has always struggled to see the information screens on the tram service, visiting the contact point was very useful. I was interested to learn that it is manned 24 hours a day, and can be reached by buttons on a platform.

“I also learned that whilst a tram will automatically stop if you are standing on the platform, on a tram you need to press the stop button to ensure it stops when you want to alight.”

Jo Pascoe, Nottinghamshire SLC member, said:

“It was a very interesting meeting. There is so much available to help blind and partially sighted passengers, but sadly most people are unaware of this. These services need to be promoted more.”

NET representative, talking to Nottinghamshire SLC members on a platform.

Luke and Sandra from NET, talking to SLC members on the platform

If you would like to collaborate with Nottinghamshire Sight Loss Council on a project, please get in touch.

Make Transport Accessible

We want to build a world where blind and partially sighted people have full access to the public transport they need. Our work focusses on raising awareness and demanding change at both local and national levels. We do this by working with local authorities, central government and transport operators.

Learn more about our work to #MakeTransportAccessible.

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Publication date: 22 February 2024

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