Inclusive Innovation: Chiltern Railways tests interactive BSL screens for deaf travellers

Inclusive Innovation: Chiltern Railways tests interactive BSL screens for deaf travellers

Chiltern Railways has installed British Sign Language (BSL) screens at four of its busiest stations to help improve how they provide information to people with hearing disabilities. The trial consists of BSL totems at London Marylebone, Birmingham Moor Street, Banbury and Leamington Spa stations.

BSL totem (c) Chiltern Railways

Figures from the Royal National Institute of Deaf People (RNID) estimate that over 150,000 BSL users are currently in the UK, and for 87,000 people, BSL is their first or preferred language. There is also evidence that because people with hearing difficulties have to effectively learn two languages, BSL and written English, they often have a reading age that lags that of hearing people. Indeed, the 2011 Census for England and Wales found that 65% of BSL users cannot speak English or cannot speak English well.

This means they may not always understand text-based information, particularly if standard customer boards are elevated or far away.

Hence, BSL screens.

Not only are the new totems pre-loaded with standard messaging and timetable information, but these screens are also interactive. They can provide customers with information during periods of unexpected disruption.

The screens also offer journey planning and onward travel functionality, meaning that customers can view local area maps and next direct trains. An NFC (near field communication) pad on the side of the totem also allows customers to wirelessly transfer information to their phone or device by touching the pad, meaning that the benefit of the machines extends far past the station concourse.

Assuming the trial is a success, Chiltern Railways expects to place the screens in more stations in the future.

Steve Scutt, Accessibility and Integrated Transport Manager, said: “We know that for those with accessibility needs, travelling on the railway can be challenging, particularly during periods of disruption.

“We are proud to have installed these screens, which will give customers who use BSL real-time departure information and allow them to travel with confidence.

“Moving forwards, pending a successful trial, we are determined to explore making these the new normal at stations across our network.”

This article was published on ianVisits


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