New signage system for blind trialled in Wolverhampton

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The Ariadne tactile map at Wolverhampton Bus Station
The Ariadne tactile map at
Wolverhampton Bus Station

A pioneering new signage system for the blind and visually impaired has begun trials at the Centro-operated Wolverhampton Bus Station.

The Ariadne tactile map ‘talks’ to people to tell them where they are within the station when they press symbols on the board. The map shows local features such as offices, toilets, walls and doors in Braille. It also features an audio system which enables users to establish where they are in the station and to calculate how to get to where they want to.

The map has been developed by Nexus Alpha Low Power Systems of Rochester, Kent.

Patrons of the Beacon Centre for the Blind in Sedgley have been brought in to help the development team from Centro and Nexus Alpha. They will give their perspective and make suggestions where they think the map can be improved for users.

Ariadne is fitted with technology automatically triggered by a person using a keyfob issued by the RNIB. The fobs can be used anywhere in the country to activate audio in RTI stands which have the facility.

With the Ariadne system, a series of beeps enables the user to firstly locate the machine. They can then explore the map by touch using raised, interactive symbols which can either be explained in Braille or conventional type, or tapped for an audio description.

Nexus COO Julian Coleman commented: “The Wolverhampton trial will help us refine and improve the system so that one day it can be rolled out across the country, helping the blind and visually-impaired find their way around.

“This is the first system of its kind in the country and the help of the Beacon Centre and Centro has been invaluable.”