Lack of access for deaf people on the tube

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I slipped into angry deaf man mode last week after a debacle at a tube station left me waiting 45 minutes for a train…

My local tube station is served by two lines: one that takes me straight to work and another that’s a more complicated journey. The information board only tells you when a train is coming about a minute before, which is particularly unhelpful because if I know that my desired train is a long way off, I can get to work quicker to get on the other train via the other route. This particular morning, a “good” service was promised but no train for my line turned up. After waiting so long, devoid of information, I became grumpily obstinate that the next train must be the one I need. All the time, the tannoys were blasting various announcements. Whilst I could tell that something was being said, I didn’t know what being said, leaving me feeling spectacularly useless. And, of course, there was nothing in the way of written information to explain what was going on.

One the priorities identified by the group of young deaf students who were interviewing key decision-makers this month was the need for more accessible transport and information to be displayed in written forms on information boards. They said that they often had to rely on hearing adults for information about what was going on, and this made them feel powerless. They didn’t like it and they wanted the Government to sort this out. This inspired me to kick up a fuss and make a formal complaint to Transport for London.

Their reply was contrite and apologetic. But there was an unhelpful reference to induction loop systems, which may be helpful to some deaf people but they’re not a magic wand for all deaf people, and not for me. And whilst the point about the need for more visual information was accepted, the suggested solution wasn’t particularly helpful. When does Transport for London hope to have a solution to the problem of only being told on the information board when a train is coming less than a minute away? By 2018. 8 years to wait for information on when the next train is coming!

And what makes me feel particularly angry? The tube station is closed every other weekend for “improvements”. Pah!

A reminder that there’s still a long way to go before public transport is fully accessible for deaf children and adults.

Have you had similar experiences? Be good to hear about it; leave a comment below.


One thought on “Lack of access for deaf people on the tube

  1. Interesting – there was some Transport for London research recently that showed that waiting for a tube or a bus isn’t what gets people stressed. The stress comes from not knowing when the next/right tube or bus is going to arrive, and constantly having to stay in “fight or flight” alert mode in case it suddenly turns up. They’ve recognised the importance of the principle of keeping passengers better infomed to help de-stress the whole experience: let’s see them do the same for deaf passengers. It would help everyone anyway – I doubt ANYONE can hear the announcements most of the time!

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