Guide dogs and trainers from the South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind went on a Gautrain bus and train recently. It was also an opportunity to familiarise the dogs with Gautrain’s facilities for visually and physically impaired passengers.
Around eight guide dogs and their trainers participated in the session. The youngest puppy was only five months old. Also participating in the session were visually impaired passengers as well as a blindfolded student trainer walking with a long cane.
Trainers and their guide dogs were exposed to the various facilities that the Gautrain system has in place for passengers with special needs. Yellow tactile surfaces on Gautrain station platforms allow for navigation for people using long canes. Bright signage which display approaching bus stops, are legible to visually impaired passengers.
Gautrain buses are equipped with facilities to allow for easy boarding for passengers in wheel chairs. Once inside the bus, a special area is designated to passengers in wheel chairs. Similar facilities are also available inside Gautrain coaches. At the stations, wider fare gates allow for easy access for people in wheelchairs.
The South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind is situated in Paulshof, Johannesburg. Guide dogs are mostly Labradors, Golden Retrievers or crosses between these.
Trainers and their dogs started the training session at the Gautrain bus stop at Monte Casino. They transferred to Sandton station from where they travelled to Rhodesfield station. The training concluded with a return trip via bus to the Monte Casino stop.