Monday, March 07, 2005

Opening Doors 

My most inept moment as a sighted guide occurred at West Leederville station. A woman with a white cane approached me and asked if I could help when the train arrived. When the train pulled in, I wasn't sure what she needed me to do. All I could think to do was tell her that the train was present (der Deanne, I think she could hear as much). She informed me that she needed to know where the doors were positioned.

Oh.

I told the lady whereabouts to board and wondered that I hadn't already thought of such an obvious impediment to catching a train. Quite apart from my insensitive blunder, what would I do in the future?

I lost track of the woman in the carriage and I worried that I should have helped her find a seat or to disembark. Thankfully, I'm a little more cluey about how to guide people now.

I thought about this incident today after reading about new directional tiles on San Francisco's BART platforms ('BART increases safety to aid blind and visually impaired riders', BART press release, 4 March 2005).

Perth's trains have audio announcements of the stops and each train's destination. They also have braille trails marking the edges of platforms. I've seen yellow markings on the platforms that let passengers using wheelchairs position themselves near the door before a train arrives but I haven't noticed any tactile indicators with the same purpose. Probably because I haven't been looking. I can see the doors, I just need to find the button that will open them. I have noticed that the doors don't always line up with the yellow markings. I'll check it out next visit (gotta do something while I wait!).

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