• Brecon Dial-A-Ride on Supporting Deaf and Hard of Hearing Passengers

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    • Brecon Dial-A-Ride on Supporting Deaf and Hard of Hearing Passengers
    • by Kate Reilly James
      Marketing Executive

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    This year’s NHS Deaf Awareness Week runs from 6th – 12th May. The aim of Deaf Awareness Week is to promote greater awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by the Deaf community, to break down the communication barriers that prevent Deaf people from fully participating in society.

    Many CTA Members across the UK offer services to passengers who are deaf or hearing-impaired. One of which is Brecon Dial-A-Ride, based in Wales.

    Brecon & District Dial-A-Ride Club has been in operation since 1977. The service was thought up by three local disabled men who wanted to be able to get out and about.

    Manager, Lisa Marsh said: “Initially with just twelve members the Club has grown to 500 members pre-covid, this number dropped but is now creeping back up and is currently about 415.

    “These are people who find it difficult to access mainline bus services or who have no bus service in their area. We work in one of the most rural areas of Wales to help older and disabled passengers remain independent and lead normal lives.”

    Transport Barriers

    Some of the barriers faced by people who are deaf or hearing-impaired in the Brecon area includes lack of accessible communication strategies and attitudes towards disability.

    Lisa explains: “Communication. Most service buses have screens which limit the vision of the driver and so the driver may not look at the passenger directly so they would be unaware of any hearing impairment.

    “Attitudinal barriers. Stereotyping, lack of knowledge and understanding of disabilities also plays a big role in accessible transport.

    “Physical barriers – People who are deaf or hearing-impaired may not be aware of approaching bus services, changes to routes, such as diversions or cancelled services all together. Added expense for taxis to avoid the stress of trying to access public transport is also an inequality. Because of these barriers they may make fewer journeys than those without a hearing impairment. Society’s understanding of disability is improving but there is still some way to go.”

    Going The Extra Mile

    The staff and volunteers at Brecon Dial-a-Ride draw from their extensive experience and the latest driver training to ensure their members feel welcome.

    “Our membership application form asks for information on any health issues including hearing – this helps our staff understand passenger needs and tailor their approach to passengers.

    “We ensure that staff speak clearly and directly to passengers with any hearing impairment, making eye contact and taking time to make sure the passenger is happy and understands. Due to the average age of our service users many have some form of hearing impairment.

    Brecon Dial-A-Ride services enable Hard of Hearing passengers to attend appointments safely, by offering the door-to-door service. Staff help by assisting passengers on arrival at venues with directions.

    “We feel our hearing-impaired passengers have more confidence to access services

    thanks to the service and support we offer.”

    Training Is Key

    Training is key when it comes to supporting service users who are deaf or hearing-impaired. Lisa explains: “We have our own MiDAS trainer who trains all our staff, both paid and volunteer. The training also covers how to best help passengers with a variety of disabilities including sight and hearing loss.

    “As a small team we get to know our service users really well and notice any deterioration or additional issues. These can be passed on to colleagues, making all staff aware of any additional help that a service user might require.

    “We have many years of experience helping a range of passengers with a variety of complex needs, we support one another and are always happy to go the extra mile – we do much more than just transport.”

    More Support Needed

    Finally, we asked Lisa if she had any advice for other Community Transport organisations who might want to know more about supporting people with disabilities. She said: “I think most Community Transport providers are already familiar with helping people with a range of disabilities on a daily basis and we are so used to doing it, we just get on with things without too much thought of questioning ‘how do we do this?’.

    “CT’s need to carry on with the excellent work that’s done all over the country, continue to publicise your outstanding work, increase your local profile and get the message out there. There is an amazing group of services available that just need proper recognition from Government, Local Authorities and Health Boards.”

    To find out more about Brecon Dial-A-Ride click here.

    For more information about MiDAS training, training centers and certification, click here.

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