Guide Dog Class Lecture: Working on Platforms
Train stations can be above ground or underground. A subway or train platform is a raised walkway that allows passengers to enter on the same level as the car. This means that the raised platform can be several feet above the ground level of the tracks. Some platforms have a two foot wide strip with textured bumps (also called truncated domes) that are designed to alert pedestrians that they are near the edge. However, these domes are often worn down or difficult to detect while walking.
There are Two Types of Platforms
- Single edge – A platform with a single edge has only one track where trains arrive and depart. Normally, buildings or walls are on the other side of the platform.
- Double Edge - Double-edged platforms have two tracks where trains arrive and depart. Along the center of the platform, there may be pillars, benches, or escalators.
How to Work Along the Platform
Orientation: Before working solo on a raised platform, it is important to first be well-oriented to the area. It is very easy to become disoriented on a noisy platform and direct a dog the wrong way, so choose the safest possible routes.
In general, the fewer steps you travel along a platform, the better. Find out approximately where the train will stop on the platform, so you can wait near that area. Whenever possible, walk with your dog between you and the edge, even if your train will arrive on the opposite side. On a double-edged platform, direct your dog to travel to the left of the center obstacles.
On a single edged platform, you will sometimes be the one to travel closest to the edge. In this case, always encourage your dog to travel as far away from the edge as possible. Do this by using a modified sidewalkless technique. With the platform edge on your right, ‘halt’ and make a ‘left’ turn to the wall and praise and reward your dog. Then make a ‘right’ to continue.
General Safety Guidelines
Since the loud noise of a train can be disorienting and even stressful, you may choose to halt your dog and wait for quiet before continuing guidework. Some stations are so busy that there is always a train coming or going – in this case, be cautious and attentive as you walk.
Whenever working on the platform, if your dog is ever reluctant to respond to your verbal cues, you may be inadvertently directing him towards the platform edge. The hesitancy may indicate that it is not safe to continue.
If your dog is hesitant, get more information before insisting that your dog respond to a directional command. Whenever you realize that your dog purposely turns away from the edge in an effort to get farther away from it, lavishly praise and reward your dog! This is a great example of intelligent disobedience.
While waiting, face the tracks and stay several feet back from the edge.
Wait until the train has arrived and come to a complete stop before you direct your dog to board.
It is important for you and your dog to remain in close contact, in large part to prevent being separated with one of you on, and one of you off the train. Whenever possible, work your dog on and off the vehicle using the harness handle. This affords you the greatest accuracy in finding the doors when entering or exiting the vehicle.
If the crowds are excessive as you attempt to enter a vehicle, and your ability to move towards the door is hampered, then it may be wise to wait for the next train.
Once inside the vehicle, move away from the doors. Keep your dog close to you by either continuing to hold the harness handle or by keeping a short leash. Do not allow your dog to move away from you for the duration of the ride.
Many of you will have a specific seat that you target (which is a good idea). However, if it is occupied you may need to find an alternate seat or remain standing. Avoid any unnecessary movement within the vehicle which may cause you to get too close to the doors.
When getting off a train during busy periods, it is best to allow the crowd which left the vehicle with you to disperse before you continue with your travel. This will allow a space to open up for your dog to guide safely and effectively. Simply move away from the vehicle to a safe distance to ensure you are clear of the vehicle.
Remember, always remain vigilant on platforms. A casual attitude could lead to orientation loss and potential danger.
You can stream the audio of the class lecture here, via a Soundcloud widget. If using a screen reader, please select the "Play" option below.