Stagecoach bus drivers at the Westwood depot have been learning sign language.
The one day workshop took place at the depot today (May 23) and was hosted by charity Action on Hearing Loss.
It was arranged by Union Learning Rep Jason Wanstall and gives Thanet’s 170 drivers the tools to communicate more efficiently with passengers who suffer partial or total hearing loss.
As well as drivers learning how to sign each bus will have Action on Hearing Loss communication cards.
Jason said: “We did a survey to see what things staff might want to learn and 75% of them asked for the sign language.
“As the ULR at Stagecoach Thanet. I am thrilled to be in a position to put on the training day where my colleagues had the opportunity to learn a life changing skill and now have the confidence to not only use sign language to communicate with our valued customers but also in everyday life.
“I would like to thank Action On Hearing Loss for providing the training and for getting on board with this initiative and working with us at Stagecoach. I would also like to express my thanks to Phillip Morgan OM , Kim Brooks and Nic Godfrey for their support in putting this event on.”
Operations manager Phillip Morgan added: “This is such a fantastic opportunity for my staff to gain additional training to improve the customer service excellence they already provide. This is such a worthwhile charity group and hopefully it will give those who are hard of hearing the confidence to use our services without the fear of not being understood.”
If the scheme is deemed to be successful it may be rolled out on a national level.
A spokesman for Action on Hearing Loss added: “The representatives present from Action on Hearing Loss at today’s event left communication passports for drivers to use,as well as showing the staff how to use basic signs, such as “Good Morning”, and signs for Margate, Broadstairs, Ramsgate, Westgate and Birchington.
“The outcome proved to be a positive experience for both companies as well as ensuring an enhancement on the experience of travelling for those people who are affected by hearing loss.”