Blogging 101:Thank You Translink

Today our local public transport provider Translink, took part in a fantastic event to understand the difficulties faced by visually impaired people.

This morning, i headed up to Belfast to meet the chief executive of Translink along with some people from guide dogs. The chief executive was going to be doing a blind fold walk with a training guide dog to understand some of the issues faced by blind and partially sighted people in relation to public transport. While we waited for everyone to arrive, we had time to stop for a quick cup of tea.

When the people from guide dogs arrived, i was asked if i would do a phone interview with the radio station
As they were running a feature on the event. The station also wanted to talk to the campaignes manager from Guide dogs about what was happening.

After that, we headed back to meet the others. Altogether, there were 3 guide dog owners including me and 2 white cane users. We also met with a couple of Translink people including the chief executive himself. A lady from the BBC was there too, and again, they wanted me to do an interview about how i found Translinks services.

Next, it was time for the chief executive to put on the blind fold and walk with a dog. He was with a guide dog mobility instructor totalk him through the experience. The journey started at Translinks office across the road from the train station. He had to walk in to the station, before going to get a train and experiencing the level of assistance offered to help him out to the train. We all climbed aboard to join him and discuss how we found the service. I must add personally here that the level of assistance on the trains is second to none. All the train staff are trained in how to sighted guide a visually impaired person, as well as how to deal with getting wheelchair users on board too. It’s as if it is second nature to them and nothing is too much of a problem for them.

After that, we headed back in again where it was on to a goldliner bus. These busses are the busses that run outside of Belfast. I stayed behind though with someone from Translink as it was all getting a bit too much for the training dog, what with there being 3 other guide dogs to distract him. Plus, there isn’t really a lot of room on the Gold liner busses. Ushi goes right up to the back of them because that’s where she can find the most room. So i think it was a bit of a tight squeeze to get the other dogs on and comfortable.

For the metro bus which was next, it was just one other guide dog owner who went on out of all of us. We stayed behind to look at a new app that is in testing at the minute to help people locate busses around them. It’s not going too well, so i think there are more tweeks to be done to it. The train and the gold liner weren’t moving, but the Metro bus was so that the chief could see the audio announcements in action. The blind fold was taken off between each thing i think, but am not too sure.

We hung about for a while before heading back over to the Translink office to watch a dvd that Guide dogs had made a few years ago discussing best practices for busses pulling up to the kerb and such. We discussed that before wrapping things up.

I would like to thank Translink for letting us chat to the chief and for him taking on the blind fold challenge. Fair play to him!

If anyone would like to hear my radio interviews, you can
Listen to my interview with Frank Mitchel
And you can
Listen to tonights Edition of Evening Extra
Where the report is about 12 minutes in.

It was a really fabulous day. It couldn’t have gone any better. Fair play again to the chief executive and to Translink in general for letting the chief experience this somewhat challenging day for him.

As a side note, i must work on my “ums” and “ya knows” on radio :).