Hannah, from FLARE, writes about young people with special educational needs and disabilities experiences on public transport and the need for more inclusivity on transport, both before and during Covid-19.
Young people with various special education needs and disabilities can find it daunting at the best of times to use public transport. Whether it be for accessibility measures or the understanding and respect they deserve from the crew, which they might not receive, due to lack of knowledge or holding stereotypes.
There might also be physical issues, such as not enough space or requiring assistance when you are getting on public transport.
All this can create mental stress and pain through anxiety.
However, in lockdown children and young people have not been using public transport unless it is necessary and thus have fallen out of the routine. Yet this also may mean that the staff have not had the recent training to assist children and young people with special education needs and disabilities.
Now some of us have decided to use public transport we have to contend with a virus that creates even more anxiety.
Due to social distancing there may be less space available for individuals to use wheelchairs or stand near doors to calm panic attacks.
I know that some of the options to create or maintain inclusive public transport in this pandemic are costly and time consuming.
However, I please ask that children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities are inclusively treated and are able to use the transport, regardless of the social distancing measures. All people are worthy of travelling safely. I do ask that staff think about the way they interact with passengers to make it as stress free as possible. I also ask that other passengers accept that some children and young people may have heightened anxiety and that they remain kind and inclusive. I also plead that all networks of public transport clearly communicate, [without jargon], all of the measures that are being implemented. This should help to ensure that public transport remains inclusive and safe.