Britain’s busiest station, London Waterloo, is trialling Artificial Intelligence (AI) that provides train information through British Sign Language (BSL).
The new AI technology being trialled by South Western Railway (SWR) translates live journey information into BSL, which is displayed through a friendly figure on digital totem screens.
Travellers who are deaf or have hearing loss often struggle to hear station announcements and communicate with staff, which can make it harder to plan and carry out journeys.
The project, in partnership with Waterloo Station and Inform Media by LB Foster, will provide accessible travel information to deaf customers who use BSL, displaying information in their first language.
“We are excited to launch the trial of this innovative technology, which has the potential to transform accessibility at Britain’s busiest station. We will watch this trial with great interest and if all goes well, we hope we can roll it out across our network,” said Peter Williams, SWR’s customer and commercial director.
The technology will be evaluated across a six-month trial period, with a view to rolling it out across the rest of the SWR network.
Teri Devine, Director for Inclusion at deaf and hearing loss charity RNID, said: “Public transport can present many barriers for deaf people and people with hearing loss, with live information such as platform changes often communicated over a speaker system.
“We are excited by this new initiative at London Waterloo station to make travelling by train more accessible to deaf people who use BSL, and we hope this trial will encourage the public to be more deaf-aware during their journeys”
In 2021, London Euston unveiled sign language screens in a similar programme. Dutch firm Signlab has also been researching similar technology for use in stations and onboard trains.