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Te Kotuituinga Mātauranga Pura o Aotearoa

Student with low vision develops skills to travel independently on the bus


A bus in a carpark

Figure 1 Ashley locating the correct bus

Ashley is a 21 year old student who is in his last year at a special unit in a mainstream school.  He is transitioning into part time supported work at the local museum in 2013.

We have been developing his independence in being able to use the public transport system in the hope that he may be able to get to his workplace independently next year.

In figure 1 Ashley is locating the correct bus.

Learning about safe travel

Ashley sitting on the bus

Figure 2 On the bus

Ashley is learning to catch a bus independently.  This requires him to locate and identify the correct bus to take him to his destination.  He needs to be able to get on the bus by himself and be ready to pull the stop rope before the stop where he needs to get off.  In figure 2 Ashley is sitting on the bus. Ashley needs to be able to exit the bus safely and be able to make his way to his destination.  He will need ongoing support from the O&M instructor around these skills.

Prerequisite skills

Ashley walking towards The Warehouse

Figure 3 Heading to destination

  • Being able to recognize the correct bus when several are present.
  • Entering the bus confidently and take a seat.
  • Pulling the stop cord before the stop he needed to get off.
  • Recognizing landmarks along the way to help him with this.
  • Exiting the bus safely.
  • Making his way to his destination (figure 3).

Possible next steps

  • To try different bus routes.
  • Be more aware of time as he has to catch a bus according to the bus timetable.
  • Begin to use a cellphone as a method of keeping himself safe.
  • Be able to exit the bus and get to a variety of places independently and safely.

Teaching methods and strategies

Ashley has additional autistic needs and because of this repetition and breaking the task down to small steps was needed. This was a long-term goal that was built upon with support over a year. As a team we looked at the skills he would need to learn to be an independent user of a bus and broke down the skills and taught them step by step building on each step as he became independent. Ashley was also given a talking watch key chain to use, as he needed to be aware of time when catching a bus.

Learning adaptations

  • Ashley was given a talking key chain to use (wearing a watch was uncomfortable for him).
  • He could have been given an enlarged copy of the bus route but he didn’t want to use one. So at the start we talked about all the landmarks along the way so he became familiar with the route.


A previous O&M assessment indicated that Ashley needed support in this area. One of his IEP goals was to learn to use public transport, which would support him being able to get to his job independently when he around developing these skills.

Useful Links

More information

Email us at BLENNZ for more information about this subject. We will link you up with either the author of this post or another BLENNZ colleague with whom you can continue your conversation.

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