Deaf-accessible visual displays coming to Regina buses in 2017

Visual displays will be installed in Regina's conventional transit fleet this year, says Brad Bells, director of Regina Transit. 

The displays will come in the form of monitors, which will be installed in buses near the driver for people to reference. It will display information such as the next stop. It is the next step in making transit more accessible for people.

"It's not a need, but again we're trying to provide accessible transit for all folks and all of our customers," Bells said.

The change is a welcome one for Nairn Gillies.

Gillies is the executive director of Saskatchewan Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services. 

"Everybody benefits from visual cues," Gillies said, whether it be a university student who has a headset on or someone who may have hearing difficulties. 

Gillies said the new upgrades are fantastic, and an example of universal design. 

"It's a great opportunity for ... the city of Regina to show inclusion," Gillies said, adding that when it comes to accessibility, there is always room for more upgrades. 

Sign language is one area Gillies would like to see explored, in regard to visual cues. It's easy to communicate through video or billboard, and it's becoming more common, he said. 

Bells said the monitors will be funded by city and federal dollars and the budget has been set at $250,000.

The displays will be the newest in a series of changes and upgrades. In 2016, city buses were equipped with an audio system that announces upcoming stops. Other accessibility improvements include low floors, ramps and a system for lowering the bus, making it easier for people to board.

Bells said the visual notification boards will likely be installed before the end of the year, possibly in September or October.