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Improving station wayfinding for people with disabilities

L.B. Foster Netpractise is working with the Rail Delivery Group to investigate how wayfinding within stations can be improved for people with disabilities. Graham Kett, Technical Operations Manager at Netpractise explains.

Getting around stations for people with disabilities can often be an onerous and arduous task. So how do you go about improving that customer experience?

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) was set up in 2011 to provide leadership to Britain’s rail industry, bringing together the owners of passenger train operating companies, freight operators and Network Rail. Its goal is to deliver a better railway. Part of that better railway is to improve the user and journey experience for disabled travellers.

L.B. Foster Netpractise has previously successfully deployed a wayfinding solution at Birmingham New Street. The interactive customer information display application has been in operation for over five years. User data provided an excellent test case against which to develop a prototype app suitable for people with disabilities. Routes mapped for the app included walking and step-free routes to destinations in and around the station.

Working alongside RDG and station staff, we agreed a total of 10 destinations for the demonstration, chosen specifically for their popularity. These included typical onward destinations, such as the Bullring shopping centre and Moor Street station, as well as station welfare facilities and popular shops.

Our project team developed the interactive information app to add a new menu page showing the destination options and an on-screen keyboard for searching and filtering. The look and feel was consistent with existing functionality within the app, maintaining a consistent user experience. The new app was premiered at a special test day held at Birmingham New Street station to demonstrate its enhanced functionality to the public and members of Rail Delivery Group’s Access Forum.

Micky Ball, Head of Customer Service Centre at RDG said: “We are committed to improving the services we provide for all customers. This trial was all about improving the customer experience for people with disabilities.

“What really impressed us was that the unique wayfinding app did just that; simplifying the process of getting to a destination within Birmingham New Street station.”

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