Speech boards help travellers get about easier

Tim O’Dea interacts with stroke victim Margaret Bashford with a new communication board, which was introduced in Border taxis and buses yesterday. Picture: DYLAN ROBINSON

Tim O’Dea interacts with stroke victim Margaret Bashford with a new communication board, which was introduced in Border taxis and buses yesterday. Picture: DYLAN ROBINSON

FOR 13 years it has been too frustrating for stroke survivor Margaret Bashford to catch public transport on the Border.

But a new communication and transport project will encourage her and others with speech and hearing impediments to leave their homes.

Taxis and buses in Albury-Wodonga will have communication boards, so those who have trouble interacting can make their wants and needs clear.

People will be able to use the board to spell out words and indicate their destination using icons.

Ms Bashford said the technology was imperative for people with disabilities.

“It’s very frustrating,” she said.

“We just want to go outside and get a coffee.

“We want to interact with the community.”

Non-English speakers will also benefit from the communication boards.

The communication and transport project was launched by Albury Council, the Talking Pictures group, Gateway Health, Wodonga Council, Albury and Wodonga Taxis, Martin’s Albury, Dysons Bus Services and the National Disability Co-ordination Officer Program.

Albury Council’s community development project officer, Zena O’Grady, said the aim was to make people feel comfortable enough to leave their homes.

She said the community needed to be aware of the struggles some people faced.

“Often some people feel humiliated and embarrassed because people can’t understand them,” she said.

“It’s about their health and wellbeing and helping them to become independent.

“We want to make public transport accessible for everyone in the community.”

Albury Taxis general manager Tim O’Dea said the communication boards would also benefit drivers.

“It provides clearer communication between passengers with disabilities and drivers,” he said.

“I’ve spoken to a number of drivers and they all said it was a good idea.

“Obviously there have been occasions where there wasn’t that bridge of communication.”

Taxis and buses started using the communication boards yesterday.

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