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?

“Not all disabilities are visible – some are not immediately obvious. They include autism, chronic pain, and learning difficulties as well as mental health conditions, mobility, speech impairments, and sensory loss such as speech, sight loss, hearing loss, or deafness. They also include respiratory conditions as well as chronic conditions such as diabetes, chronic pain, and sleep disorders when these significantly impact day-to-day life. Although you may not be able to see these invisible impairments and conditions, they’re still there.

People living with these often face barriers in their daily lives including a lack of understanding and negative attitudes. So some choose to wear the Sunflower lanyard to discreetly identify that they may need support, help, or just a little more time in shops, transport, or public spaces.”

– 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 [email protected].

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 [email protected]

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 Support Department.

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

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