Blind and partially-sighted customers meet with bus drivers to help increase accessibility of travel

  • Members of York Sight Loss Council joined by My Sight York

Blind and partially-sighted people met with drivers and managers at bus operator First York on Wednesday 19 Oct to discuss further ways to help and support their travel needs and encourage a return to using the bus after the pandemic.

Members of York Sight Loss Council (SLC) demonstrated special glasses that simulate a range of eye diseases and conditions to show the challenges blindness and poor eyesight create for day-to-day travel on public transport.

York Sight Loss Council, funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust, is led by blind and partially-sighted members. Together, they tackle local issues and work with businesses and service providers to improve the accessibility of their services. 

Iain Mitchell, Senior Engagement Manager for York Sight Loss Council, was joined by members Verity Peat with her guide dog Ted and Josie Clarke. They both shared experiences of using the bus network and explained the type of assistance they need.

Iain Mitchell said: “Today’s Meet the Bus event will help blind and partially-sighted people to rebuild their confidence to use public transport after the pandemic and help increase accessibility.

“We are grateful to First York for their work and dedication in enabling this event to happen. This is an excellent example of partnership working to help make transport accessible for others.”

Keith Sheard, the lead Training and Recruitment Manager at First York, was supported by colleagues running the training school next to the James Street depot. He was joined by two trainee drivers who are mid-way through their course to become qualified.

He said: “We have built a lot of content about accessibility into our driver training but it is invaluable to hear the lived experiences of blind and partially-sighted people.

“The simulation glasses really helped to show us all what it can be like coping with limited sight when travelling on the bus. We will look to add some of the learning from today to refresh our training activity.”  

York SLC also met up with others from charity, My Sight York to enjoy a tour of the buses used by First York. This was to show how drivers interact with customers boarding, using the card reader and finding a seat.

First York also talked about on-bus technology such as audio visual (AV) next stop. This has been available on the all-electric Park & Ride fleet since its introduction in July 2020. It is now being specified as standard on all new vehicles ordered by the operator.

Some new buses fitted with AV are due to appear on the network in the coming weeks.


Group picture caption: Iain Mitchell (centre) with from left, Richard Ward (trainee driver), Keith Sheard, Verity Peat and guide dog Ted, Josie Clarke and trainee driver Chantelle Pisarkeiwicz


Notes to editors

Editors’ Notes

1,200 people in York are currently registered as blind or partially-sighted

About Sight Loss Councils
Sight Loss Councils (SLC), funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust and led by blind and partially sighted volunteers, advocate the needs of blind and partially sighted people, and influence positive change.

Learn more about our work to help #MakeBusesAccessible here:

There are currently 15 SLCs across the country. Each SLC is made up of around 10-12 blind and partially sighted members who meet monthly to discuss accessibility issues and plan projects in their regions under the three priority themes of Employment and Skills, Health and Social Care and Inclusive Communities.

Over the next year Thomas Pocklington Trust will extend its SLCs further across the country. To find out more visit: