Understanding the difficulties with sight loss

15th June 2022

Yorkshire Water and Morrison Water Services (MWS) recently introduced a new course aimed at helping people understand and address the difficulties of those with sight loss and other disabilities when interacting with Street and Road Works.

Tom Lambert, National Streetworks Manager at Morrison Water Services, has worked in partnership with Yorkshire Water, the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and Disability Action Yorkshire to produce a short course aimed at field teams and their line managers. The course helps our people understand the challenges of works on public highways and how they can affect every customer encountering them, with or without a disability.

Our operatives have the opportunity to gain hands on experience about what it is like to be visually impaired or lack mobility and negotiate through a simulated streetworks site, using glasses that simulate different levels of sight loss and wheelchairs to better understand the impact of streetworks on people with visual impairments and disabilities. This means we are better able to support them in navigating around our sites safely and easily.


MWS will be rolling this course out across its other contracts over the coming months.

Andy Darby, Senior Transport Manager, Lee Schofield TTM Manager and Russ Addy Front Line Manager, from MWS are delivering the training sessions at our Normanton Depot Centre of Excellence, Wakefield.

Tom Lambert National Streetworks Manager said: “We need to understand the needs of everyone when we work on the public highway. This course has been designed to give operatives a hands-on insight into the challenges faced by visually impaired and disabled people when they come into contact with our works. Hopefully the lessons learned on this course will be implemented on the ground making our works safer for all and demonstrating MWS’s commitment to our customers, the wider community and to operational excellence.”

Alistair Gavins, Streetworks Strategy Manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “We try to consider all of our customers when setting up streetworks, but we understand that some customers will find them harder to safely navigate than others. The new training will educate our contract partners on how blind people, wheelchair users, and people with other disabilities may experience the street works, so that we can implement a more accessible approach.”

Kerry Barton, Head of Customer Services at MWS, said: “We deliver what we promise and our commitment as a business is to continually strive to provide exceptional standards inclusive of our vulnerable customers. We are always working on new ideas and ways to improve the service for our clients and the communities we work in.”

Robin Spinks, Senior Manager, Inclusive Design and Innovation at RNIB said: “Imagine walking around your neighbourhood but doing so with significant sight loss. Suddenly the pavement you’re familiar with has been diverted into the road. There’s a loud drilling sound which is drowning out the voices of people on the street. Now, you feel frightened, out of your depth and lacking in confidence. Sadly, this is an all too familiar experience for Britain’s two million people with sight loss.”

He continued: “We’re delighted to be working with MWS and Yorkshire Water to pilot a unique course which offers an insight to street works engineers. We're aiming to equip delegates with knowledge and understanding of sight loss. We want to give people the confidence to enable others to identify and overcome accessibility barriers, prompting confidence and independent mobility.”

Josh McCormack, Disability Access Coordinator at Disability Action Yorkshire said: “We are so pleased that MWS and Yorkshire Water have asked us to be a part of providing training to enable their staff to understand some of the challenges faced by disabled people when they encounter street works.”

He added: “Just going to the shops can be a major challenge when you have mobility or sensory impairments, and particularly for wheelchair users. Encountering works on pavements which haven’t made adequate provision can cause major issues which can be highly distressing as well as posing a real risk to safety. This is a really positive move and one we hope others will note.”

If you would like to find out more about the course, please get in touch with Tom Lambert: Tom.Lambert2@morrisonws.com


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