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roommate

Audio devices to be fitted in dozens of Northern’s toilets thanks to accessibility funding

24 January 2022
Dozens of toilets at Northern’s stations will be fitted with a new device to help blind and visually impaired customers. 

RoomMate® is a wall-mounted device which gives blind and visually impaired visitors bespoke audio description in an accessible toilet – and will be installed in 44 locations across the rail operators' network.  

If audio guidance is required, a simple wave of the hand over the unit triggers a detailed explanation of the room in order of typical use.  

Phrases might include: “the toilet is on the wall facing you,” “the toilet tissue is on the wall to your left,” “there is a single lever tap,” “the exit door handle is on the right of the door.

The scheme is part of Northern’s accessibility fund, which is dedicated to empowering communities to make decisions which will improve the railway for all.  

A total of 13 projects have been granted up to £50,000 each in funding and will focus on station improvements such as fitting handrails, ramps and automatic doors as well as schemes to encourage those with schemes to encourage those with visible and invisible disabilities to use public transport. 

The fund is a first for the UK rail industry as the successful bids were chosen by the independent Northern Accessibility User Group (NAUG) and supported by Northern. 

Mark Powles Commercial and Customer Director, at Northern said: “Our customers are the heart of everything we do, and we are dedicated to making Northern’s services accessible to everyone, and to having a positive impact for the north.  

“This scheme will give blind and visually impaired people added confidence when using our services.  

“The accessibility fund is part of our wider project to transform our network and encourage people to use public transport – no matter their circumstances.”   

Terri Balon, RNIB Regional Campaign Officer for the North West, said: “We welcome the installation of RoomMate in 44 locations across the rail operators' network which will make it more accessible for blind and partially sighted to navigate toilets easier as the technology provides an audio description of the toilet layout.  

“As a member of the Accessibility Fund Panel, I am delighted to see the proposal for the installation of RoomMate ‘Talking Toilets’ across their network as part of the improvement plan they are working on.”

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