Good Practice Driving Visually Impaired People Jonathan Martin (Licensing Manager) and I recently met with the members of the Sight Loss Council to talk about their experiences of using taxis. Although many visually impaired or blind people have established very good relationships with a particular regular driver or operator, and report an excellent service, it appears that others have had some very poor trips.
This includes drivers not recognising their needs and just stopping in the road and hooting, offering no assistance on arrival, or asking them to tell them the way! I am sure that our Bristol, drivers would want to make sure they provide a high quality service for this group of people as part of their equality duties and would aim to treat them with respect, but maybe have not had training in how to make the journey accessible.
There is also a good business case for getting it right. The last DfT statistics show that on average, 60% of people rarely use a taxi (GC or PV), whereas only 8% use one weekly. The options for visually impaired people may be really limited in terms of public transport and car use and, although there are no stats available for this group, as mobility impaired people use taxis more than twice as much as the average and those householders with no car use taxis 4 times as often and travel twice as far as the average – the conclusion has to be that visually impaired people are more likely to be regular customers, and so treating them with consideration also makes good business sense.
Bristol has recently clarified the exemption criteria for an exempting drivers from carrying guide dogs, so all other drivers should expect this to be the norm, yet 31 drivers nationally have been prosecuted for guide dog refusals. We know that our drivers all want to provide a quality service for all their customers, so these simple tips from the Guide Dog Association may be useful and this clip from a visually impaired customer in Leicester explains the issues:
Cllr. Ruth Pickersgill (Chair Public Safety Cttee)
Source: Bristol City Council (Hackney Vehicle and Private Hire Vehicle newsletter – 7th edition)