Your Stories

Why accessibility matters to Lothian

Pandemic highlights real issues affecting those with hidden disabilities

Lothian is committed to providing an accessible and inclusive service for residents and visitors alike.

Over the years, we have worked hard to ensure that our buses are easy access for everyone and that our colleagues are able to assist with all customers regardless of their particular needs or requirements. We know, however, that there is still work to be done.

The pandemic has brought with it a lot of anxiety and uncertainty for us all, perhaps none more so than for those with hidden disabilities.

What is a hidden disability?

“A hidden disability is a disability that may not be immediately obvious.

Hidden disabilities often don’t have physical signs and can include learning difficulties, mental health as well as mobility, speech, visual or hearing impairments. They can also include asthma, COPD, and other lung conditions as well as chronic illnesses such as renal failure, diabetes, and sleep disorders when those diseases significantly impact day-to-day life.

Living with these conditions can make daily life more demanding for many people. They affect each person in different ways and can be painful, exhausting, and isolating. Without visible evidence of the hidden disability, it is frequently difficult for others to acknowledge the challenges faced and as a consequence, sympathy and understanding can often be in short supply.”

– The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower

Waving hand with a heart in the palm

What work has Lothian done to help those with accessibility needs?

We work closely with a number of organisations and charities who support those who have disabilities and/or accessibility requirements to ensure that our services are as inclusive as they can be. We have a dedicated Accessibility and Inclusion Officer whose role it is to evaluate service provision for those with physical and mobility difficulties, sensory impairments, mental health conditions and/or learning difficulties, as well as others who have accessibility needs such as the elderly and families with young children.

The Accessibility section on our website goes into more detail on how we support those with accessibility requirements before they travel, during their journey, and when it’s time for them to alight from the bus.

Under the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, “respect for difference and acceptance of persons with disabilities as part of human diversity and humanity”  is a right. Lothian respects this right and is working to ensure that all who travel with us have awareness of hidden disabilities and treat their fellow customers with dignity and respect.

We are here for you. We are supportive. We are inclusive. We are Lothian.

Real stories

We want to shine a light on individual stories from people with hidden disabilities to raise awareness and foster understanding among all who use our services. We’ve spoken to a number of customers including those with mobility issues, sensory impairments, developmental and learning disabilities, to gain a better understanding of the difficulties they encounter in their day-to-day lives as a result. We intend to use these stories to learn from their experiences as we continue to evolve and adapt our services.

If you have an accessibility need or disability (hidden or otherwise) and would like to get in touch to discuss your experience, please contact our Accessibility and Inclusion Officer at

Read stories from real customers on their experiences travelling with Lothian.

thistle assistance logo

If you need extra help to make your journey, the Thistle Assistance Card is available to assist anyone who has difficulty using public transport because of age, disability or illness.

This can be especially useful for individuals with a hidden disability to discreetly alert drivers to their additional needs.

To find out more about this free scheme visit

woman saying here to help

We are here to help

Lothian acknowledge and support the fact that not all disabilities are visible and our customers should be able to travel free from judgement. We aim to create a culture of inclusion across Edinburgh and hope all of our customers support us by showing patience and kindness to each other and our colleagues. If you require any additional support with your journey planning or any aspect of your travel with us, please contact our dedicated Accessibility team via email to

Your safety is our priority

Lothian believe that our colleagues and customers have the right to travel without receiving any form of abuse.

Lothian operate a zero-tolerance policy towards any physical or verbal abuse directed at our colleagues or customers, and CCTV and audio recording is in operation on all of our buses.

If you wish to report an incident or provide us with any feedback, please contact our Customer Services Department.

If you need to report a hate crime, please call 101.

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