Bus travel made easier for blind

EASY TO USE -- one of the tactile buttons for blind passengers at Bulwell bus station -- DISPIC NHUD12-0998-2.

EASY TO USE -- one of the tactile buttons for blind passengers at Bulwell bus station -- DISPIC NHUD12-0998-2.

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GROUNDBREAKING work to help blind and partially-sighted passengers in Bulwell use buses more easily has been recognised in a national awards programme.

Nottingham City Council has undertaken a scheme of improvements that has included a complete makeover for Bulwell bus station in the town centre.

This has incorporated the use of tactile buttons on timetable display-cases to identify stops, new clear and uncluttered signs, improved lighting and clearer timetable displays.

This, combined with other initiatives, has earned five ‘Travel Exemplar’ awards from the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB).

The recognition is built on a three-year project to make it easier for disabled passengers to use public transport.

Other initiatives have included the launch of a special transport-guide for blind and partially-sighted people, entitled ‘Linking The Journey’, which is available in braille, large print and audio formats.

Praise was also given to the ‘Mobility CityCard’, which is for disabled residents and provides free bus and tram travel.

Part of the project has also seen the tactile buttons added to stops along Highbury Road in Bulwell, while new signs have been fitted at stops including Bulwell Main Street, Hucknall Lane and Cinderhill Road.

The city council’s senior transport officer, Laraine Reckless, worked with blind and partially-sighted volunteers, aged between 20 and 60, to come up with the plan of improvements.

She shadowed their typical journeys in order to pinpoint problems.

Laraine said: “We identified obstacles and problems, noted what worked well and what didn’t, plus the reaction and helpfulness of passengers on the buses. All this information was shared with our local bus operators.”

Coun Jane Urquhart (Lab), the city council’s lead member for transport, says she hopes improvements in Bulwell will spread across the country.