On the fast train to communication access with V/Line!

V/Line becomes the first transport service to be globally recognised as a communication accessible organisation

Picture board available at V/Line services
Picture board available at V/Line services

In 2016 V/Line was the very first transport service globally to be recognised as a communication accessible organisation. Scope’s Communication and Inclusion Resource Centre have worked with V/Line over the past three years to make this happen.

The Communication Access Symbol is the newest universal symbol that is awarded to businesses that have made a commitment to improve access to services for people with communication difficulties.

As Australia’s largest regional public transport operator, V/Line recognised the importance of considering the requirements of all of its passengers in its most recent Accessibility Action Plan, including individuals with communication difficulties.

Each year, more than two million V/Line trips are taken by people with communication difficulties (Victorian Community Transport Association Conference).

V/Line’s journey towards communication access involved a number of stops with key milestones achieved at each stage.

Stop One – All-aboard the planning stage!

V/Line conducted face-to-face focus groups, online surveys and interviews with key V/Line staff and its customers with communication difficulties. V/Line wanted to make sure they had the right train of thought when it came to implementing any training, tools or resources that would support successful communication between its staff and customers.

Results indicated that an astounding 72% of staff had never received any training that focused on communicating with individuals with communication difficulties, yet 84% of V/Line’s staff had had an interaction with an individual with a disability within the last month.

83-88% of V/Line staff said communication resources (such as cards with common questions, or names and photos of all stations on each line) would be useful tools to have available for staff and customers to assist communication.

Stop Two – Implementation of training, resources and accessible information.

V/Line reviewed the results of the research and trained 345 V/Line conductors and frontline staff, and 143 PTV call centre staff in disability awareness.

V/Line ensured all staffed stations and conductors were provided with a ‘Talking to V/Line’ kit, which included a

  • Communication board
  • Sentence board
  • Alphabet board
  • Journey information notepad
  • Picture information cards
  • Reminder cards
  • Line accessibility information pamphlets

These tools were just the ticket to improving communication between V/Line staff and passengers with communication difficulties.

See the ‘Talking to V/Line’ kit here.

'Talking to V/Line kit' available at stations for staff and passengers
‘Talking to V/Line kit’ available at stations for staff and passengers

Scope also delivered ‘Train the Trainer’ sessions to key V/Line staff, which coached individuals on how to train other staff to use the new resources using their ‘Talking to V/Line’ kits.

V/Line made also improved its infrastructure and worked with Public Transport Victoria (PTV) and Metro Trains Melbourne (MTM) to overhaul the information screens at each station, including un-staffed stations across Victoria. Stations now display high-contrast, easy to read screens with relevant train journey details.

Stations now display high-contrast, easy to read screens with train journey details.
Stations now display high-contrast, easy to read screens with train journey details.

Stop Three – Rollout of communication access across V/Line.

Once the preparation phase was complete, V/Line was like a run-away train! They went full-steam ahead and scheduled the state-wide delivery of all its communication access initiatives across it’s five lines.

Stop Four – The end of the line: Assessment and award of the Communication Access Symbol.

In February 2016, V/Line was awarded the Communication Access Symbol which endorsed its commitment to providing excellent customer service to all travellers, including those with communication difficulties.You can now see the Communication Access Symbol at all V/Line stations, on V/Line trains and at the PTV call centre.

Scope congratulates V/Line for raising access to a new platform for its customers and staff by breaking down the barriers to community participation with communication accessible transport services!