As lockdown restrictions are lifted and people gradually find their feet with the new normal, what exactly does this mean for the VI community? Whether it’s accessing public transport or navigating town centres it’s time to admit that, yes things are different but this by no means suggests any changes are insurmountable.
Here we take a look at what to expect when using public transport;
As of the 15th June everyone wishing to use public transport must wear a facial mask or covering.
However, there is a list of exemptions on disability or impairment grounds, one of which is visual impairment, if there is a restriction to the lower visual field. No proof is needed to verify this, although West Yorkshire Metro have produced downloadable travel assistance cards that can be printed or downloaded onto a smartphone to show to transport staff when boarding or during a journey.
Here is the full list of exemptions from wearing a face covering.
If you are exempt from wearing a face covering, you can download an assistance card here to help communicate this to staff on bus and rail services in West Yorkshire. You can either print the card off or take a picture of it on your phone to show transport staff.
As well as masks it is also advised that you use hand sanitiser before and after your journey, continue to socially distance from people not within your household, pay by contactless means if possible and allow extra time for journeys, should restrictions in passenger numbers affect your ability to catch a particular service.
NB. First Bus have implemented live time customer counts on their app so would be passengers can see whether a due service is already running at capacity, if you would like help to use the First Bus app, contact the KVIN team and we will help.
For further information and updates on local public transport, please check the WY Metro website.
And the reality, our Comms Officer, Sam offers her personal experience;
‘Yes, it sounds like a lot has changed but in reality, little has altered. For sure, you now have to bear social distancing in mind when boarding a bus, but if you are visually impaired and struggle to find a seat you can ask the driver to describe to you where is available to sit. Don’t many of us do this normally anyway? Whether you’re travelling by bus or train, staff are still only too happy to help, ALL customers still have a right to access services. And as for any perceived risk, it’s all about being sensible; wear a mask, sanitise your hands and certainly don’t worry about contact with others, I have not yet been on a bus that was anywhere near its new capacity.’
KVIN have been working with Bus Station Management and Bus Service Providers across West Yorkshire to see if we can get some consistent guidance for visually impaired and disabled travelers for travelling safely through bus stations and on buses. As we receive updates, we will share them to keep you updated.