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Transport chiefs take on total darkness challenge

05 Jun 2017

Could you navigate Melbourne and its public transport system in complete darkness?

That is the question PTV and Guide Dogs Victoria (GDV) put to transport industry CEOs last week, at Melbourne’s first ever complete darkness exhibition – Dialogue in the Dark.

Dialogue in the Dark is an immersive experience in which traditional mobility roles are reversed. Blind or low-vision guides take fully-sighted groups through a mocked-up streetscape in complete darkness.

PTV CEO Jeroen Weimar recently joined the heads of Metro Trains, Yarra Trams, V/Line, Transdev, CDC, Ventura at the event, meeting GDV CEO Karen Hayes to advocate for increased network accessibility.

Each CEO was given a white cane and challenged to traverse the space – putting themselves in the shoes of blind and low vision passengers who use public transport services every day.

“For thousands of Victorians, vision loss is a reality,” said Ms Hayes. "Over 220,000 Victorians currently living with low vision or blindness and this figure is set to double in the next 5 years due to age related eye diseases like macular degeneration and glaucoma. Our role is to support our clients to achieve their goals in life and educate the community about the issue.”

“Public transport is a lifeline for those Victorians and visitors who experience blindness or low vision,” said Mr Weimar. “PTV and our operator partners advocate for inclusive and accessible public transport systems. To do that we must seek out empathy, understanding and education through events like today.”

Dialogue in the Dark is a global social enterprise that has come to Melbourne for the first time in 2017. With each international event taking on elements from local city experiences, Melbourne’s Dialogue in the Dark event includes a mocked-up Melbourne tram that groups must attempt to board.

“What we’re doing today is getting the decision makers in the transport sector to live the experience of visually impaired people using our network every day,” said Mr Weimar.

“That’s an important step to understanding the needs of Victoria’s accessibility groups and stakeholders – and making the case for real change.”

Dialogue in the Dark opens today and runs for two years at Harbour Town in Docklands.

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