Thursday 1 Apr 2021
Network Rail introduce new accessibility services to help deaf and blind passengers in the Southern region
- SignLive enables deaf or hearing-impaired passengers to keep up to date with station announcements, no matter the time of day
- RoomMate is an electronic, wall mounted device that provides blind and visually impaired passengers with a bespoke audio description in an accessible toilet
Network Rail’s managed stations in the Southern region, are offering two new services to make the railway more inclusive. These services will benefit passengers who use British Sign Language (BSL) to help them keep up to date with station announcements, as well as blind and visually impaired passengers using the toilet facilities at stations.
The first innovation, SignLive is an around the clock sign language interpretation service. This will mean that deaf or hearing-impaired passengers can keep up to date with station announcements and safety information, no matter the time of day.
The second innovation, RoomMate is an electronic, wall mounted device that provides blind and visually impaired passengers with a bespoke audio description in an accessible toilet. Using RoomMate provides dignity and independence to those with sight impairments.
The stations offering SignLive and RoomMate services are:
- Clapham Junction
- London Bridge
- London Cannon Street
- London Charing Cross
- London Victoria
- London Waterloo
Lucy McAuliffe, Network Rail stations director, Southern region, said: “I’m delighted to introduce SignLive and RoomMate to all Southern region managed stations. Our organisation is committed to making stations open and accessible to all passengers. As more passengers return to the railway, coinciding with the lifting of lockdown restrictions, it’s essential we provide services that remove barriers to travel so that everyone feels welcome in our stations.”
Paul Lennon, Network Rail project manager, Customer Experience team, said: “Stations are the main point of contact for passengers and that is the time when deaf people like me want and need communication. In the past, I have missed station announcements like platform changes when travelling, so I suggested this as a way to help minimise frustrating things like this happening. SignLive will enable station colleagues to give good customer service to deaf passengers if they need assistance.”
Joel Kellhofer, chief executive officer, SignLive, said: “We are delighted to be working with Network Rail to provide BSL interpreting in some of the busiest stations in Britain. Deaf passengers will now have better access to information thanks to an easy way to communicate with members of Network Rail’s team via SignLive.”
Steve Holyer, co-director, easyAccessibility Ltd – the company behind RoomMate, said: “For those with no sight like me, RoomMate is an essential addition to the fixtures and fittings in an accessible toilet. Without this audio assistance, I lose independence and dignity. Network Rail has raised the bar in accessibility where before there was no help for people like me.”
Notes to Editors
Passengers can connect to an interpreter via a video call who will then communicate announcements or enable a three-way conversation to take place with a third party, such as a station colleague. Once a passenger has signed up free of charge, they can use SignLive to communicate easily and without barriers. Usually, the connection time is less than a minute, so the process is as smooth as possible.
The RoomMate device is mounted on a wall inside accessible toilets and upon entry, the device asks whether the user would like audio navigation. The user is then guided to the unit beside the door catch, by four sonic pings and asked to wave their hand over the front sensor if they wish to continue.
RoomMate then guides them through options such as the location of the toilet, flush and hand basin to help them use the toilet safely and independently. Included in the greeting is an important public health message: “Please, always remember to wash your hands.”
Passengers / community members
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About Network Rail
We own, operate and develop Britain's railway infrastructure; that's 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels and viaducts and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations. We run 20 of the UK's largest stations while all the others, over 2,500, are run by the country's train operating companies.
Usually, there are almost five million journeys made in the UK and over 600 freight trains run on the network. People depend on Britain's railway for their daily commute, to visit friends and loved ones and to get them home safe every day. Our role is to deliver a safe and reliable railway, so we carefully manage and deliver thousands of projects every year that form part of the multi-billion pound Railway Upgrade Plan, to grow and expand the nation's railway network to respond to the tremendous growth and demand the railway has experienced - a doubling of passenger journeys over the past 20 years.