Northern Rail RoomMate audio device image

Dozens of toilets at Northern Rail’s stations will be fitted with a new device to help blind and visually impaired people navigate the toilets more confidently.

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

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

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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,” or “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 that 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 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.”

Watch the short video below to see how RoomMate works:

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