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Attack highlights urgent need for driver training

Appalling attack highlights urgent need for driver training

The Human Rights Commission says an appalling attack on a 14 year old vision-impaired boy attempting to use a Wellington bus on Monday night highlights the urgent need for transport companies to provide disability awareness training for drivers.

It also graphically illustratres why the Commission's Inquiry into Accessible Public Land Transport recommends that disabilty awareness and competence training be a mandatory requirement for a 'P' endorsed driver's licence for bus and taxi drivers.

Police reports say that the boy was punched twice by a passenger on the bus after the driver refused to accept his bus pass showing that he was blind. The assailant then returned to his seat on the bus and the vehicle drove on.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan says the attack and the events leading up to it are further evidence that public transport providers must act immediately to introduce the training for drivers and other frontline staff.

“It is important that transport providers take immediate steps to ensure their drivers are properly trained so that disabled people are treated with the same respect as other passengers ,” Ms Noonan says.

“The way a driver deals with a disabled person can also have an impact on the way other bus patrons treat disabled people.”

“During the Inquiry we found that many disabled people were fearful of using the bus because of bullying by other public transport users. This was particularly prevalent against people with intellectual and psychiatric disabilities,” Ms Noonan says.

The report of the Inquiry into Accessible Public Land Transport for people with disabilities was released by the Human Rights Commission last Wednesday (26 October).

The Inquiry, which began in September 2003, was prompted by the experiences of diabled people who came to the Commission, seeking enforcement of their right not to be discriminated against in the provision of public transport. The Inquiry considered the need for changes to legislation, regulations, policies and procedures and funding arrangements.

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