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A helping hand on Wellington’s rail network

Trainee Passenger Operator Phyllis Puia helps to guide Blind Foundation’s Chris Orr onto a Metlink train

Wellington’s Metlink has been working closely with the Blind Foundation to educate their on-board rail team on the best way to offer assistance to visually impaired passengers.

Blind Foundation Rehabilitation Instructor Elaine Kelleher and Access and Awareness Advisor Chris Orr recently ran two sessions at Transdev Wellington, who operate services on behalf of Melink, on assisting visually impaired customers onto rail services.

“The most important thing is to always introduce yourself and your title. Only offer assistance – do not assume they need it,” Chris says.

The Blind Foundation believe in ‘Kahore e Mutunga ki te Ora – Life without limits’ and work with those who are blind or experiencing sight loss to provide support, and help them face their future with confidence.

Elaine and Chris covered everything from eye diseases people are affected by to the different challenges visually impaired people face when travelling on the rail network including glare, shadows and not having the ability to see signage and timetables.

On-board team members were taught techniques on how to guide someone who is visually impaired around trains, which can be narrow or crowded spaces, and guide someone to a seat.

Chris, who has been blind since the age of 21, says “The world has never been in a better position for people with impairment than it is today”.

He says by continuing to educate people in a position to offer assistance, those who are visually impaired will be better equipped to live an independent life.

“It’s not the end, it’s the beginning of a different way.”


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