Disability awareness with a difference

Compassionate communication for customers with additional needs

Client: First Bus

The Brief

First Bus asked us to create compelling training content for their drivers about disability awareness. A growing number of bus customers have both visible and hidden disabilities and they were keen to ensure that their drivers were equipped to deliver the right kind of service to these customers. They also had to meet the legal requirement that all bus drivers complete disability awareness training. 

Our challenge was to make this training relevant, real and engaging for bus drivers. We wanted to create empathy and understanding, inspiring drivers to do the right thing for the customer – and not bombarding or frightening them with policy and procedure.

Our Solution

We used film and audio to bring the voices of real customers with additional needs into the classroom. We featured drivers having frank conversations with various customers, such as a wheelchair user, a Deaf passenger and a bus user with visual impairment. 

Our 7-hour training course involved thought-provoking discussions, light-hearted quizzes and interactive exercises to bring to life the material. We also taught some basic sign language to drivers, and they really valued this practical skill. 

Have a look at the film to give you a flavour of what we created.

The Result

Drivers found the content emotionally compelling. They identified with the drivers featured in the videos, who were open and honest about their fears and challenges about dealing with disability. They were moved by watching Terry, a retired bus driver, who had recently started losing his sight, in conversation with Anela, a bus customer with a visual impairment.

Drivers understood from the customers themselves how they could deliver a better experience to them and how they could respond better to their needs.

“The other day I used the sign language I’d learnt to say “thank you” and “bye” to a Deaf customer. Seeing how happy the customer was made me proud knowing I am making a positive approach in our communities that we serve.” (Course Attendee & Bus Driver)

Understood was instrumental in the development of First’s “Journey Makers 2” course as part our development of driver CPC training modules. This is an excellent course, bringing to life the requirements of bus drivers to fulfil their obligations with regards to disability awareness and customer service.

- John Birtwistle, Head of Policy - UK Bus -

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