Independence Street opens at local college

Training site to help visually impaired students.

Students at local Specialist College, Queen Alexandra College in Harborne, will benefit from a new and unique training facility opening next week.

Named Independence Street, the travel training site is designed to assist students to safely negotiate the street environment, including road crossings, dropped kerbs, street light columns and other street furniture. The facility, worth over £35,000, was built at no cost to the College by employees from Amey, Birmingham City Council’s Highways partner, with all the materials donated by the company and their suppliers.

As well as being used to help students, the travel training site can be used to train guide dogs and may be of interest to other external groups. It marks the beginning of an ongoing partnership between Amey and the College. The site will be used to help train Traffic Management operatives how to be more aware of the issues faced by people with visual impairments and/or other disabilities when installing temporary barriers and pedestrian diversions and the company will work with the college to update and change the layout of the site regularly.

The training site was named following an internal competition at the College – with the successful name, Independence St having been suggested by two students; Olivia Bennetto and Hiwa Saidi.

Hugh Williams, Principal at Queen Alexandra College said; “We are extremely grateful to Amey and their suppliers for making this project come to life. We work with a large number of young people, many of whom need to be given a lot of time to practice such ‘real-life’ scenarios in a safe environment prior to navigating their way around the local streets. This will make a real difference to our students and will further enhance the mobility training that we offer here at QAC”.

Jim Oldham, Account Director for Amey in Birmingham, added: “We are very proud to have delivered this unique project which will benefit students for years to come. As we work in partnership with the City Council to help improve Birmingham’s highways network, we are aware that our activities can have an impact on everyone in the community. We look forward to working with the college to help us be more aware of how we can reduce the inconvenience to those with visual or mobility impairments when carrying out essential maintenance and improvement works”.

The travel training site will be officially opened on Monday 6th October by Councillor Lisa Trickett, Cabinet Member for Green, Smart and Sustainable City, as well as ‘Blind Dave’ Heeley (former student and current Governor at QAC), representatives from Amey and students from the college at a dedicated celebration event.