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New initiative to aid bus travel for visually impaired people

A new initiative to help make bus travel easier for visually impaired people across Greater Manchester launched today.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has teamed up with the charity Henshaws, which supports people with sight loss to design new, free products for registered blind or partially sighted people, including a fluorescent orange pass wallet and a yellow bus hailer.

To help make travel less challenging, the new products indicate to bus drivers that visually impaired passengers may require additional assistance, prompting them to offer this instantly.

The bus hailer is a flip pad that consists of bold and embossed numbers and letters, with the braille version underneath. Users select the number of their bus and display it to oncoming traffic, signalling to the bus driver that they need to stop. The word ‘bus’ can be displayed if users are unsure of their bus number.

The fluorescent orange pass wallet is designed to stand out to drivers from a distance, indicating to them that the user may need extra assistance boarding and leaving the bus.

Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee was joined at a launch event by Glynis Howard and Gail Brett from the charity Henshaws.

Councillor Fender said: “For people living with sight loss, simply travelling from one place to another can be a challenging experience. We are delighted to be able to offer visually impaired passengers these aids to make their bus journey that bit more straightforward.

“We hope the scheme will allow blind or partially sighted people to keep a certain amount of independence and confidence in their everyday lives.

“These products will go a long way in raising awareness for people living with sight loss, as well as signalling to bus drivers that the passenger may require some additional assistance during their journey.”

TfGM worked closely with Henshaws during the design of the products, listening to feedback from visually impaired people and drawing on similar initiatives by local authorities and passenger transport executives in the UK.

Robert Cooper, Director of Community Services at Henshaws said: “Everyone has the right to an independent life and being able to travel, for work or leisure, is key to this. Thanks to initiatives like this, people with sight loss can look forward to a more positive future.”

Debbie Abrahams MP, Shadow Minister for Disabled People, added: “It is fantastic that TfGM recognises the needs of disabled people. The bus hailer and orange pass wallets are simple and cost effective products that have the potential to greatly improve the quality of life for visually impaired people.”

The free bus hailers and orange pass wallets are available in Travelshops in bus stations across Greater Manchester and from Henshaws. Both products come in clear plastic wallets to withstand all weather conditions and have instructions for use in braille and text.

More information is also available by calling 0161 244 1000 (7am-8pm, Monday to Friday, and 8am-8pm at weekends and bank holidays).

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