BRITAIN’s busiest station, London Waterloo, is trialling the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to provide passenger information using British Sign Language (BSL).

Passengers 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 undertake rail journeys. The new AI technology being trialled by South Western Railway (SWR) translates live journey information into BSL, which is then signed by a friendly figure on digital totem screens.

The project is being undertaken in partnership with station and infrastructure manager Network Rail and LB Foster, which developed the Inform Media digital platform behind the totem screens. By providing accessible travel information to deaf customers who use BSL, displaying information in their first language, it aims to give them more confidence to make rail journeys.

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. The trial is one of a number of innovations that SWR is examining as it works to improve customer experience.

 “This is a breakthrough for the deaf and deafblind communities, making travel more accessible and enjoyable with BSL announcements on totems around SWR stations,” says Ms Emma Boswell, a member of SWR’s Inclusivity and Accessibility Forum and a BSL user.

LB Foster’s totem technology was discussed in a feature that appeared in the July 2022 online edition of IRJ. Digital subscribers can read it here.