As part of the DAA transport project, DAA member Stephen Brookes has been working closely with Blackpool Transport to improve the transport experience for disabled people. Thrilled with the results, Blackpool Transport are keen to share their experience with the DAA:
Blackpool Transport has always taken a proactive approach to disability awareness training. Disability awareness training plays a large part in the induction process for all our front line staff. This training has always taken the traditional form of practical exercises, quizzes and the showing of DVD’s.
Then during one of our Customer Focus Panel meetings Chaired by Blackpool Disability Consultant and Disability Action Alliance Steering group member Stephen Brookes a new idea was born. We decided to invite people with disabilities to come and speak directly to our drivers and conductors. We hoped that this might help improve our staff’s understanding of passengers’ needs and encourage the best customer service possible.
We are now almost 2 years into the project and have been able to welcome numerous guest speakers from a wide range of disability groups. Our staff have been able to interact with our customers by asking questions and sharing their views.
This year in addition to our guest speakers we have incorporated World Host theories and practices in to our training. The partnership between World Host, Disabled group and ourselves has given us an opportunity to deliver quality proven training which in turn has given us a more skilled, knowledgeable and productive workforce that is equipped to deal more effectively with our disabled customers.
Listening to feedback from both staff and guests it would appear that this interaction has brought about a positive change in attitudes and behaviours of both staff and users as they come to understand the challenges faced by each other. In addition, Bryan Lindop, Blackpool Transport’s Customer Services Coordinator commented, “Since these initiatives were put in place, we have seen a profound impact on the way in which our staff interact with all our customers. More importantly, we rarely receive any complaints now from customers who require extra support and assistance when accessing our services. The positive buzz around the Company about the training has been quite dramatic to say the least.”
2 of our guest speakers Sue and Nicky who are visually impaired say “Sue and I would like to thank Blackpool Transport for having us and being prepared to listen. We have enjoyed helping the drivers to understand what it is like to be visually impaired. We have noticed ourselves and have been told by other visually impaired people that there has been a huge difference in the way that they are treated by BTS drivers. We do hope that the drivers found benefit in the experience of being blindfolded and feeling the vulnerability that comes with this type of disability”.
Here’s hoping for a long and friendly relationship with BTS, so much so we have challenged them to a tenpin bowling competition.
Jane Cole Managing Director said “I am very proud of Chris Davies and the team for the proactive approach taken to improve the experience for all our customers. By listening to people in the community and reacting to their needs we now have a framework for positive action. Other transport operators can learn from this model and use it to impact the way they engage their staff and customers.”