Train journeys could be improved for people with hearing loss

Transport for Wales (TfW) has trialled a new onboard digital service providing passengers with hearing loss with personalised journey information announcements.

Train journeys could be improved for people with hearing loss

The Hearing Enhanced Audio Relay (HEAR) application was successfully tested on TfW trains for two months, with the aim of improving the journeys of passengers with hearing loss.

Passengers could connect to the onboard Wi-Fi to receive personalised journey announcements to their smart devices in real-time. HEAR was funded by the Department for Transport through its £9m ‘First of a Kind 2021’ competition, delivered by Innovate UK (part of UKRI).

Michael Davies, Insight and Innovation Manager at Transport for Wales, said: “We are committed to making our network as accessible as possible. Working with GoMedia on HEAR has given us the opportunity to test a solution that could provide huge benefits to customers and encourage people to choose rail.”

It is estimated one in six people in the UK adult population is affected by hearing loss and by 2031, 14.5 million people, approximately 20 per cent of the UK population, will suffer from some form of hearing loss.

Roger Matthews, GoMedia’s Managing Director, added: “HEAR offers a more versatile and cost-efficient solution to installing expensive hearing loops on trains. The benefits of the solution also extend beyond improving accessibility for passengers with hearing loss – The app itself is customisable, supports multiple languages, and can give passengers an overview of previously made announcements and delay information updates, making it a useful tool for all passengers, where they are visiting from abroad, or would just like to relax on their journey without having to worry about listening out for announcements.”

A survey of people with hearing loss conducted by charities Hearing Link and Hearing Dogs found that 96 per cent would love to have a solution like HEAR implemented on public transport as currently, only 7 per cent were confident that they would be made aware of changes and disruptions during their journey, while only 16 per cent felt they were treated equally compared to people without hearing loss.

Transport for Wales runs trains through Shropshire.

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