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Allan and Endal go ‘training’

SOUTH WEST trains (SWT) held an important meeting to discuss disabled users access - and disabled users were invited not to just listen but to take part. Among the guests were the indominatable Allan Parton and the equally long serving support dog, Endal. Various associations dealing with disability were invited to hear how the network is making improvements not only to the rolling stock but also stations as part of the current £38 million investment. Guests were also invited to suggest areas where improvements could be made as well as being encouraged to highlight areas which currently fall below acceptable standards.

Allan and EndalFor the visually impaired, Brail is being used on new ticketing machines’ tactile surfaces and for the mobility impaired and wheelchair users, lifts, ramps and handrails have been introduced along with improved information systems designed for use by those with a wide range of disabilities.
Allan Parton said that he felt pleased that the disability model used of a wheelchair user with an assistance dog was fast becoming the norm and that the model is being built in to all future adaptations and improvement.

Talking to Our Dogs, Allan said, ‘It was so refreshing to see other assistance dog partnerships as well at the meeting, one from Guide Dogs and another from Support Dogs and the whole event was very positive. On the other hand, I feel despite all the technical enhancements, whistles, buzzers and bells real access is still very much down to the those members of staff who are always there with a smile and with a genuine willingness to help. Valuing and investing in the staff is very much a critical factor to improving rail travel for all both now and in the future.’

With a wicked sense of humour one disabled person summed things up at the meeting: ‘As disabled people we are not asking for a different level of service, we just want to experience the same level of misery and frustration as our able bodied fellow travellers...!’