More than 3,000 SBS Transit frontline staff trained to better help passengers with disabilities
These days, public transport operators are much more aware of accessibility needs, said SG Enable.
SINGAPORE: More than 3,000 SBS Transit frontline staff have been trained to better help passengers with disabilities.
For passengers with visual impairments, for instance, they are trained to offer more vocal guidance.
The bus captains go through experiential training carried out at the Enabling Village, an inclusive space that houses social businesses and community services. Key themes of the two-hour session are respect and consent.
“Our bus captains are put through scenarios where they will be blindfolded. They'll also be on crutches as well as in wheelchairs, to give them that sense of persons with disabilities, how they feel,” said SBS Transit CEO Jeffrey Sim.
“They are then able to better experience and empathise and are able to then better advise and ensure that their commute is a very delightful one."
It is just one module in a larger programme to create a culture of care among bus drivers.
SBS Transit also has a Travel Buddy programme, where trained staff accompany commuters with disabilities.
HOW TO OFFER ASSISTANCE
Training is important because there is an etiquette in offering assistance, which people may forget in their eagerness to help, said Ms Chia Ai Ling of SG Enable, the focal agency for disability in Singapore.
“We may be doing something that may not be quite acceptable to the persons with disability or maybe they don't quite need the help in the way that it is being offered,” said the director of communications and community engagement.
“The best way of doing this is really to just ask the person, you know, what sort of assistance do you need and how can I help you,” she added.
SG Enable said its training aims to equip people to be more confident in interacting with people with disabilities and increasing their awareness and understanding.
Looking ahead, SBS Transit said more can be done to improve existing infrastructure at bus stops and train stations.
“We'll be working with the LTA (Land Transport Authority) to see how infrastructure can be enhanced to facilitate their (persons with disabilities) travel within interchanges, within stations,” said Mr Sim.
“We're also working with vendors to try to implement and leverage technological solutions.”
One such solution is known as wayfinding, which can help those who are visually impaired better navigate their surroundings.
IMPROVEMENTS IN PUBLIC TRANSPORT ACCESSIBILITY
SG Enable has a long-standing partnership with SBS Transit and is looking to train staff from other public transport operators, Ms Chia said. This could include co-developing curriculum with them, she added.
These days, public transport operators are much more aware of accessibility needs, said Ms Chia, adding that “much progress” has been made. She gave the example of Tower Transit, which works with SG Enable and its partners whenever it has a new bus interchange.
“They look at what are some of the accessible routes and where the physical environment perhaps poses some challenges,” she said.
Ms Chia noted that SG Enable looks at how to activate the community, for instance, getting volunteers to help wheelchair users.
“That's also a great way for us to … get people involved, be part of the solution rather than just you know, complaining or talking about what it is that's not working,” said Ms Chia.
“If we can all extend that understanding and that bit of assistance to persons with disabilities, then we can all play a part in making Singapore a much more inclusive society.”