Guide Dogs charity's mobile sensory unit at First Bus depot in Leeds

BUS drivers in Leeds had the chance to experience what it's like to be blind or partially sighted as part of a Guide Dogs charity initiative.

Representatives from Guide Dogs visited the First Leeds bus depot in Hunslet Park yesterday with a special mobile sensory unit.

The sensory unit aims to give people with normal vision the perspective of what it’s like to be blind or partially sighted.

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As the bus drivers walked through the unit they experienced different noises, textures and obstacles both on the walls and underfoot.

Date:9th October 2018. Picture James Hardisty. First Bus Leeds, at their Goodman Street, Leeds, depot had a visit by the Guide Dogs sensory unit which aims to give people with normal vision the perspective of what itâ¬"s like to be blind or partially sighted. As drivers walk through wearing a mask they will experience different noises, textures and obstacles, in a pitch black tunnel which will alter the senses used in everyday life. Pictured Debbie Linford, Guide Dogs, Community Engagement Officer, working with Paul Atkinson, Staff Manager at First Bus Leeds.

They walked through a pitch black tunnel, which alters the senses used in everyday life to give a small glimpse of what daily struggles visually impaired people face.

This weeks is Guide Dog week and the charity invited First Bus drivers to experience the sensory unit as part of its annual celebrations.

Richard Tandy, operations manager at First Leeds, said: “At First Bus we want to keep improving accessibility for all our customers.

“An important part of this is supporting our staff to give great service and we were delighted to work with Guide Dogs and their mobile sensory unit.

Date:9th October 2018. Picture James Hardisty. First Bus Leeds, at their Goodman Street, Leeds, depot had a visit by the Guide Dogs sensory unit which aims to give people with normal vision the perspective of what itâ¬"s like to be blind or partially sighted. As drivers walk through wearing a mask they will experience different noises, textures and obstacles, in a pitch black tunnel which will alter the senses used in everyday life. Pictured Nikki Allen, with her guide dog Rita, chatting to Richard Tandy, Operations Manager at First Bus Leeds, as staff members line up to take part in the experience.

“The event gave our drivers a perspective of what it’s like to be blind experiencing different noises, textures and obstacles and fits well with our ongoing training focussing on bringing everyday events to life.”

Debbie Linford, community engagement officer for Guide Dogs, said: “Guide Dog Week is not just about rising vital funds and volunteering, it’s about awareness, education and breaking down barriers that prevent someone from being independent.

“Bus travel is key to someone having the freedom to live the life they choose. Every hour, another person in the UK goes blind.

“When someone loses their sight, the charity Guide Dogs is here to make sure they don’t lose their freedom as well.

Date:9th October 2018. Picture James Hardisty. First Bus Leeds, at their Goodman Street, Leeds, depot had a visit by the Guide Dogs sensory unit which aims to give people with normal vision the perspective of what itâ¬"s like to be blind or partially sighted. As drivers walk through wearing a mask they will experience different noises, textures and obstacles, in a pitch black tunnel which will alter the senses used in everyday life. Pictured Debbie Linford, Guide Dogs, Community Engagement Officer, working with Paul Atkinson, Staff Manager at First Bus Leeds.

“Almost two million people in the UK are living with sight loss. By 2050, there could be nearly four million.”

“It’s never too late to support our work, and make a difference to the lives of people with sight loss in your area by celebrating Guide Week with us.

“There are lots of ways to get involved, donate an hour of your time to join one of our collections at an event near you or hold your own fundraiser.”