Many passengers with a disability or specific accessibility requirements rely on commercial passenger vehicles for travel to social, economic and medical appointments, enabling them to take part in everyday community life.
What can make or break a successful and enjoyable trip for this community is the attitude and behaviour of their driver.
Here are four ways a driver can easily make the difference to a passenger’s journey:
1. Treat me like you would any other passenger
People with a disability or specific accessibility requirements should be treated just like any other passenger. This means speaking to a passenger in a way that shows them the same respect given to other passengers.
It’s natural to want to help a passenger as much as you can, but it’s important to ask what your passenger wants – and actively listen to what they say instead of making assumptions based on what you can see. Respect the passenger’s personal space. For example, ask the passenger if they would like you to put on their seatbelt for them – because many passengers prefer to buckle their seatbelt up themselves.
2. Don't feel sorry for me or my disability
A person with a disability or specific accessibility requirements doesn’t want sympathy or to be questioned about it. Your passenger would prefer to have a pleasant conversation while on their way to their destination and be treated like anyone else.
3. Ask me what type of vehicle I would like
Not everyone with a disability or specific accessibility requirements needs a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV), but those that do often have specific requirements. When taking a booking, ask what kind of vehicle the passenger requires and aim to meet their needs. Always remember to lift and restrain wheelchairs in line with the manufacturer’s requirements, including making sure your vehicle is suitable to carry the wheelchair.
4. Remember that my guide dog can ride too
Some CPVs don’t allow pets to travel but drivers have a legal responsibility to transport passengers and their assistance animals. This means it is illegal to refuse to take an assistance animal with a passenger who requires the animal. If you’re not sure whether an animal is an assistance animal, politely ask the passenger: “Is your animal an assistance animal?” Assistance animals are well trained and are clean. They will not bite, lick, or jump on you or make a mess in the vehicle.
We interviewed passengers who told us their stories of what it’s like travelling with a disability or with mobility impairment. Hear their stories and see how you can make a difference as a driver.