Students get a helping hand from National Express West Midlands

Students at the Queen Alexandra College in Harborne are better able to travel independently on public transport, thanks to support offered by National Express West Midlands.

The Queen Alexandra College was originally set up to provide education for the blind and visually impaired. Nowadays, it also offers support and guidance to students on the autistic spectrum, those with moderate to severe learning difficulties, as well as students with physical disabilities and other needs.

Every year National Express Inspector Mark Rea takes a bus to the college so that the students can learn how to travel safely and independently.

Simon Breed, Rehabilitation and Travel Training Officer at Queen Alexandra College, said:

“Both the QAC Mobility team and students alike are extremely grateful to Mark and his team for the invaluable experience provided for our students before they set out on their aim to become independent travellers.

“It can be a challenging goal for students with various disabilities and this service provides not only an opportunity to experience bus travel but also greatly decreases lots of anxiety issues for our students. It is very much appreciated!”

Mark Rea, Inspector at National Express West Midlands, said:

“We provide disability awareness training for our drivers which helps them support customers who have different types of disabilities. However it’s also really important that we’re out in the community working with local organisations like Queen Alexandra College.

“We’re always looking at what we can do to increase customer satisfaction and confidence in using public transport and it’s a pleasure being able to support local students to travel independently.”

Students are able to explore the bus and familiarise themselves with the layout in an unpressured setting, helping them to develop their confidence to travel independently.

Mark also talks to students to make sure they’re aware that National Express bus drivers can support them if they have any difficulties whilst travelling.

In partnership with Transport for West Midlands, National Express and the Bus Alliance developed “Welcome Aboard”, a bus driver disability awareness DVD to assist with disability awareness training. The DVD helps improve driver awareness and confidence and shows how to assist customers with visible and non-visible disabilities.

Transport for West Midlands also has a range of accessibility products available for West Midlands residents. Free products include communication pocket guides, RNIB key fobs, and assistance cards with a range of messages that customers can keep with their ticket or pass. 

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Pictured above: Mark Rea, Inspector at National Express West Midlands and Simon Breed, Rehabilitation and Travel Training Officer at Queen Alexandra College

Published 8th March 2019