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Bus travel is a vital service for people who are visually impaired, allowing them to get out into their communities and live independently. Fresno EOC Transit Systems provides transportation services for riders in Fresno and Madera Counties and is taking extra steps to ensure all passengers are safe and comfortable. Recently, all of its drivers went through training to learn how to assist those who are visually impaired.

Transit Systems teamed up with the Valley Center for the Blind (VCB) for the valuable session. VCB Trainer and Support Services Assistant Matt Sidlinger, who is visually impaired, provided training for more than 45 Transit Systems drivers.

Photo of Matt Sidlinger, Support Services Assistant for Valley Center for the Blind

Matt Sidlinger, Support Services Assistant for Valley Center for the Blind

Drivers learned how to assist visually impaired people to board their bus, guide them to a seat, as well as other skills to help visually impaired riders. Plus, total immersion demonstrations included putting a blindfold on the drivers so they could understand what the passenger was experiencing. Matt says the main focus of the workshop was communication. “I helped drivers with the specific words and cues to use in certain situations since using physical gestures is not an option. For example, I showed the drivers how to act as a guide and to tap on doors, so passengers will know how close they are to the entrance of the bus.”

Matt said the training was very practical and offers a priceless opportunity for riders. “Some people are still learning and adjusting to their visual impairment, so this driver knowledge can be extremely helpful in opening doors to independence.”

Fresno EOC Transit Systems has more than 150 vehicles in its fleet. This year, drivers are projected to cover more than 1,335,000 miles. To learn more about services, visit the Transit Systems webpage.


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