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20 April, 2017

School holiday mobility day

Children with vision loss with Transit Systems NSW staff

During the school holidays Guide Dogs NSW/ACT hosted a free program designed to provide children with vision impairment with the skills to safely catch public transport.

Focusing on safe bus riding skills, the aim of the two-day course was to teach children strategies to increase confidence so that they will one day be able to travel independently. Students spent the first day learning how to hail a bus, how to get safely on and off the bus, the best places to sit and bus layout as well as how to communicate with the driver.

The next day, the children had to chance to put their newly-learned skills into action with a visit to Calmsley Hill City Farm, Abbotsbury, where they were treated to animal petting, tractor rides and educational shows.

Children with vision loss enjoy a day out at Calmsley Hill Farm.

“This school holiday program not only offers local primary school children with valuable life skills but also the opportunity to enjoy a fun day out with other vision impaired kids of a similar age,” Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Sophie Hogan said.

“We want to prepare these children as much as possible for their future and being able to confidently ride on public transport is crucial for their independence as they travel to school, university or work.”

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has worked closely with Transit Systems NSW to educate and train staff on best practices for drivers who encounter a passenger with vision loss, such as how to guide a person if they ask for assistance.  

“We are very pleased with how eager Transit Systems NSW has been to support our school holiday programs as well as training staff on how to assist passengers who are blind or vision impaired,” said Sophie.

“The drivers for the program have actually been inducted by the Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Community Education team on how to provide training to other staff members.”

While best known for its work in breeding and training Guide Dogs, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT is the leading provider of vision loss services, such as orientation programs, that enable people with vision impairment to get around their communities safely and independently.

Every day 28 Australians are diagnosed with uncorrectable vision loss, including nine who become blind.