BUS DRIVERS in Oxford stepped out from behind the wheel to walk a few steps in the life of those living with visual impairments.

A groups of blind and partially sighted passengers put the drivers at Oxford Bus Company to task as they switched places at a special 'Swap Me' event.

The groups swapped places as part of a campaign to demonstrate the difficulties blind people can face when travelling on buses.

Oxford Bus Company managing director Phil Southall said: "We strongly believe that disabilities should not be a barrier to travelling independently.

"Bus travel should be seen as an option for all of society so we make sure our drivers are well-trained in disability awareness, including vision impairment."

Members of the Oxfordshire Association for the Blind took their seat in the drivers spot while bus staff wore 'Sim Specs' and tried to get on board, pay for a ticket and find a seat.

The goggles simulated different eye conditions such as tunnel vision.

Mr Southall said: "I wore Sun Specs which simulate tunnel vision and I got on the bus as if to pay and managed to drop my bus card on the floor.

"This obviously made me really disorientated and the way the driver responded was key to helping me.

"It made me realise how important the communication between drivers and people is.

"Afterwards drivers said how inspired they were, they felt lucky in life but more importantly said next time they serve a visually impaired person they would behave differently now they have experienced it themselves."

Mr Southall said the lessons learnt at the Swap Me event will go towards updating drivers training to ensure all point on The Bus Charter are covered and Oxford Bus Company will continue its commitment to every new bus being a "talking bus".

The event was staged with the Royal National Institute of Blind People to celebrate Oxford Bus Company pledging its commitment to supporting people with visual impairments on its buses.

OAB director Colin Cure said: "We are delighted that Oxford Bus Company have adopted the Bus Charter, and pleased to be working together with RNIB to promote this.

"It’s most appropriate that this is happening in National Eye Health Week, during which we and the other members of Oxfordshire's Low Vision Strategy Group raise awareness of the importance of sight testing and the availability of services towards independent living for sight impaired people."