TfW trial new onboard digital service for passengers with hearing loss

TfW have trialled a new digital service which provides personalised journey information announcements for passengers with hearing loss.

The new HEAR service which will help passengers with hearing loss to travel more confidently

Credit: Transport for Wales - The new HEAR service which was trialled to help passengers who have hearing loss to travel more confidently.

Transport for Wales (TfW) has trialled a new onboard digital service providing passengers with hearing loss with personalised journey information announcements. The Hearing Enhanced Audio Relay (HEAR) application was successfully tested on TfW trains on the Rhymney-Penarth route for two months, with the aim of improving the journeys of passengers with hearing loss.

The application enables passengers connected to the onboard Wi-Fi to receive personalised journey announcements to their smart devices in real-time. These notifications can be specifically tailored to passengers’ preferences, for example only informing them of announcements relating to their destination, in both audible and readable formats. HEAR was funded by the Department for Transport through its £9 million ‘First of a Kind 2021’ competition, delivered by Innovate UK (part of UKRI).

“We are committed to making our network as accessible as possible,” Michael Davies, Insight and Innovation Manager at Transport for Wales said. “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. Over 60 per cent of passengers with accessibility needs struggle to make their journeys independently, making it more important than ever for public transport to be more accessible for all passengers.

A survey of 58 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 somewhat 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.

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