24 Feb 2015
Rugby guide dog owner Chris McLatchie-Wade invited Mark Pawsey, MP for Rugby and Bulkington and Ian Campbell, the local Rugby Operations Manager to take a blindfold challenge.
The request to them both was to take part in a blindfolded return bus journey from his home to Rugby town centre. The aim was to understand the challenges faced each day by people with a visual impairment.
Stagecoach Operations Manager Ian Campbell kindly arranged for a bus to be available for the journey and explained Stagecoach policies and procedures on supporting people with disabilities and visual impairment. Stagecoach fully train their drivers to support people with these needs.
Ian explained "I was delighted to be invited to take part in this blind fold challenge. I found the experience very enlightening and I am glad that I was in return able to explain the disability awareness training that Stagecoach provides to all its drivers"
David Head, Chief Executive at RP Fighting Blindness, said "It's good to see both the bus company and our local MP taking the time to learn a little about the issues faced by disabled users. As fully sighted people they, like me and many others, can easily take so much for granted, until they experience the problems for themselves. A few minutes disorientation and inconvenience is not like a lifetime with a disability, but it can provide a small insight which will hopefully influence decisions about public transport and infrastructure in the future."
After the journey Mark Pawsey commented "the whole experience has renewed my understanding and awareness of the needs and challenges that visually impaired people face. I have been alerted to how much they rely upon the support of both their assistance dogs and their fellow passengers. "
Chris McLatchie-Wade whose guide dog Munro accompanied him on the morning was extremely pleased with the overall outcome of the event. He believed that all parties had benefited from the experience.