BLIND and partially sighted people have been demonstrating the challenges posed by their poor eyesight to York bus drivers and managers.

Members of York Sight Loss Council, visiting First York’s training school in James Street, demonstrated special glasses that simulate a range of eye diseases and conditions to trainee drivers.

The visit came as First York - the city's biggest bus operator - revealed that on-bus technology is set to make life easier for passengers with hearing and sight loss on its regular service buses across the city.

Such passengers have often struggled to tell when the bus is approaching the stop at which they want to get off.

But 'Audio visual (AV) next stop' has been used on its all-electric Park & Ride fleet since 2020, giving passengers verbal and visual warnings of where the next stop will be.

And the technology is now being specified as standard on all new vehicles ordered by the operator and some new buses fitted with AV will appear on the service network in coming weeks, said a spokesman.

Verity Peat, 42, of Acomb, who uses a guide dog called Ted, said such technology would certainly be a help while on board.

But she stressed that she always welcomed offers of assistance from members of the public, for example in telling her when the bus she was waiting for was arriving at a bus stop or in helping her to climb on board.

"A lot of people are very helpful," she said.

The special glasses, simulating the impact of conditions such as tunnel vision and macular degeneration, were demonstrated to trainee drivers Richard Ward and Shantell Pisarkiewicz.

They said they were a very effective way of illustrating some of the problems which their blind and partially sighted passengers would be having to deal with.

Keith Sheard, the lead Training and Recruitment Manager at First York, said: “The simulation glasses really helped to show us all what it can be like coping with limited sight when travelling on the bus. 

"We have built a lot of content about accessibility into our driver training but it is invaluable to hear the lived experiences of blind and partially-sighted people."

Iain Mitchell, of York Sight Loss Council, which is funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust and works with businesses and service providers to improve the accessibility of their services, said the 'Meet the Bus' event would help blind and partially-sighted people to rebuild their confidence to use public transport after the pandemic.

“We are grateful to First York for their work and dedication in enabling this event to happen," he said. "This is an excellent example of partnership working to help make transport accessible for others.”