With November being Disability Rights Awareness Month, GO GEORGE once again collaborated with key stakeholders who take an interest in people with disabilities, to raise awareness and achieve greater efficiency towards an inclusive public transport service. The focus is on the attributes of GO GEORGE that make it accessible to all and empower the community to access work, economic, social and educational opportunities.
Persons with disabilities include those who have perceived or actual physical, psychosocial, intellectual, neurological and/or sensory impairments and who, as a result of various attitudinal, communication, physical or information barriers, are hindered from participating fully and effectively in society on an equal basis with others.
According to Morné Lakay, Acting GO GEORGE Manager, the bus service aims to empower frontline staff such as Call Centre agents, information officers and communication champions with skills to support persons with disabilities.
“We also want to assist with the process of attitude change among passengers. People’s intentions might be pure, but they might not know how to approach a person with a disability when offering assistance. We need to keep in mind that not all disabilities are visible when we interact with people in public and that many people might require different ways of interaction. People might refer to ‘wheelchair-bound’ people while the correct terminology is wheelchair users – that is the kind of mindset change we want to help bring about. Once we see passengers voluntarily getting up from a priority seat in the bus to offer it to a person with special needs, we’ll know that we’ve achieved our objective,” Lakay said.
The red-backed priority seats meant for passengers with disabilities and other special needs are clearly discernible on the lower floor of the bigger buses as well as on the minibus, and offer more leg space.
A sensitisation workshop with GO GEORGE frontline staff is presented annually to empower communication champions and Call Centre agents to better understand and support persons with disabilities. Especially for new staff, this is an enlightening experience and conveys insight they are eager to share and apply.
GO GEORGE staff always enjoy their visits to the Up with Down’s Centre for children and adults with Down’s syndrome and other special needs. Latching on to the school’s current theme of safety during the holidays, they requested assistance to arrange an educational bus trip to empower young adults on the autism spectrum to use the bus service independently. The younger learners had their own joy ride.
Anyone with a disability who feels uncertain about using the GO GEORGE bus service is welcome to phone the GO GEORGE Call Centre on 0800 044 044 to request personal guidance and assistance from passenger support staff.