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Last Updated: Monday, 27 February 2006, 16:03 GMT
Railway staff learn sign language
Rail worker Simon Coutts is learning sign language
Rail staff across Scotland have returned to the classroom to learn sign language and help deaf passengers.

Pupils attending the voluntary scheme include train drivers, ticket collectors and administrative staff.

First ScotRail workers can now respond in sign to queries including "What time is the next train?" and "What platform does the train to Stirling leave from?"

The move was welcomed by a body which represents some of the 758,000 deaf and hard of hearing people in Scotland.

Chris Underwood, of the Royal National Institute for Deaf and Hard of Hearing People, said: "Deaf and hard of hearing people's needs are often forgotten about when it comes to accessing public transport.

"Anything that improves access is welcomed by the RNID."

'Lit up'

Steven Bell, a train driver with more than 17 years experience, is taking part in sign language training.

He said: "Deaf people can become frustrated when seeking help through no fault of their own.

"I think it is important to help all customers so they can enjoy a safe journey."

Jim McCulloch, a ticket collector for 14 months, said one deaf couple "lit up" when he assisted them in sign language.

Passenger Focus, the consumer body which represents rail passengers, welcomed the initiative.

Robert Samson, its passenger link manager, said: "The initiative will make rail travel more attractive and hassle free for people who are hard of hearing."


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