This week has been a very busy one for Wiley and I. Monday I had my usual Taxi Talk plus at AGM to go to in the evening.
Tuesday we caught a couple of buses to get to the Guide Dogs office in Deakin. I wanted to attend a training session for the new NXT bus system that is currently being installed on all the local ACTION buses. It gives on board audio announcements of all stops along the bus route. There is also a digital display but that isn’t all that helpful to me.
Once the system is fully operational there will be a website, text messaging system and phone number so you can get real time information about when your bus will arrive. At the interchanges there are audio and digital displays that tell you which bus will leave from each bay and when.
As part of the training we took a NXT system enabled bus into the city. Once we got to the city interchange we located and used the audio information units.
Another one of the attendees had their Guide Dog with them. Both dogs worked well in close proximity to each other. I suspect they had a quick sniff and nose touch whilst they were sitting next to each other on the bus but their behavior was exemplary.
Overall I think the NXT bus system that will help enhance independent travel for people who are blind or vision impaired. But as with most things there are limitations. For example noises on the bus or at the interchange can make hearing the announcements very difficult.
The website isn’t live yet as the system is still on trial so I haven’t tested its accessibility. I have already programmed the information number into my phone – I am not sure if I’ll use the texting feature or not.
Before the training I hadn’t been on any bus that had audio announcements but the one I caught home had the new system. It was great to use it in a real life situation, plus I now know my home bus stop number.
Tuesday evening was my weekly yoga class, I always sleep so well after a good stretch and some relaxation exercises.
Wednesday I went to my nieces school assembly as she was being presented with an award. Wiley kept thinking he had to take me up to the front to do a talk and would get up to move whenever there was applause. Once he figured out we were staying put he went to sleep.
That evening was another AGM, this one was for the Community Title and went on for more than two hours.
Thursday Wiley and I headed into the city as I was catching up with a screen writer whose screen play could include a vision impaired Guide Dog handler. They wanted some insight into the type of bond a handler and dog share. I had a great time sharing my thoughts and found it really interesting listening to him talk about his screen play. Although it wasn’t necessary I really appreciated the chocolates and doggy treats he gave us as a thank-you.
Friday I had four meetings relating to the Community Centre, so we were in and out of the house all day.
Saturday we finally had a day off. Wiley and I enjoyed a extra long morning bush walk and then had a nice relaxing day. I did some baking and wrapped more presents. It was mostly successful although I managed to burn a batch of shortbread, as one of the tactile markers on my oven fell off so I ended up setting the temperature too high.
Yesterday we went to an Achilles training session. Once again thanks to a great guide I had a lovely run. I pushed my self a little harder so was really puffing, panting and sweating by the time I got back.
Wiley had a fantastic time – one of the regular walkers bought their pet dog along, a gorgeous girl that I could have spent hours cuddling. Wiley was a little excited to meet her but apparently by the end of their walk together they were happy to stroll side by side. As an extra special treat Wiley got to have a paddle at the lakes edge, I know he would have loved that.
After training we had a nice catch up under the trees with refreshments including cake and brownies. It was our last training session of the year so we all shared best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.
One of the members found my blog and shared the address with others. So hello to anyone from Achilles who may be reading – thank you so much to all my wonderful guides and Wiley’s dog walking friends (human and canine) and for the friendships I have shared everyone throughout the year.