GCRTA provides Bus, Rail and Paratransit Operators with various types of training each year to improve customer service and safety of our passengers. Recently, our Paratransit Training Instructors and Operators visited the Cleveland Sight Center to learn how best to interact with customers who may have vision loss or blindness.
During the three-hour class, attendees worked on sighted guiding, cane work and riding fixed route service. The purpose of this training is to provide a different perspective and improve our staff’s ability to provide the valuable services to our riders.
Attendees took turns, as partners, guiding each other through the classroom while blindfolded. Another exercise called the “clock method”, which is a helpful tool when providing sighted guide. This aids our staff in understanding and improving interactions with people who are blind or have vision loss, as it gives them a fixed point of reference to where things are from their location. The person with vision loss is always at 6:00.
Our staff also had the opportunity to experience waiting for a fixed route bus as a person with vision loss. With guides from the Sight Center, staff were blindfolded and walked down the street to pick up the bus. Waiting at the shelter, they had to determine if the bus was there and then board it. The bus operator that participated in this exercise drove a bus that was not in service; however, was a regular Gillig which is normally in operation on the road on any given day. The operator pulled up to the curb and shouted out the bus number and direction/ending destination. Determining this was the bus they wanted, the students needed to board the bus and know when to exit at their “stop”. This exercise reinforced the point that communication is key! Operators should always call out the stops if the overhead announcements are not functioning. A small task like this makes a big difference to visually impaired riders.
Throughout the day, the training instructors and operators from Paratransit expressed how much they learned and were eager to take the lessons back to the district for further implementation. All Paratransit operators will receive this training before the end of 2020 and other fixed route bus operators will receive this training as part of their biennial refresher course each year.
The mission of the Cleveland Sight Center is to empower people with vision loss to realize their full potential while shaping the community’s vision of that potential. The Sight Center serves 10,000-14,000 people per year and provide services to the community including: recreation programs, socialization activities, vision rehabilitation, social support and counseling services, employment and career development, customer service training and much more.