TfW trials new digital service to improve journeys for people with hearing loss

Posted: 2 June 2022 | | No comments yet

The Hearing Enhanced Audio Relay (HEAR) application aims to improve the journeys of passengers with hearing loss by providing them with personalised journey announcements in both audible and readable formats.

TfW trials personal announcement service for passengers with hearing loss

Credit: Transport for Wales

Transport for Wales (TfW) has announced that it has trialled a new onboard digital service providing passengers with hearing loss with personalised journey information announcements.

The Hearing Enhanced Audio Relay (HEAR) application has been successfully tested on TfW trains on the Rhymney – Penarth route for a duration of 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 has been funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) through its £9 million ‘First of a Kind 2021’ competition, delivered by Innovate UK (part of UKRI).

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Michael Davies, Insight and Innovation Manager at TfW, said: “We are committed to making our network as accessible as possible. 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.”

Research by Hearing Link shows that one in six people in the UK adult population are estimated to be affected by hearing loss and the UK Health Security Agency has found that by 2031, 14.5 million people, approximately 20 per cent of the UK population, will suffer from some form of hearing loss. With over 60 per cent of passengers with accessibility needs struggling to make their journeys independently, it is more important than ever for public transport to be more accessible for all passengers.

In addition, a survey of 58 people with hearing loss, conducted by charities Hearing Link and Hearing Dogs, has found that 96 per cent of respondents would love to have a solution like HEAR implemented on public transport as currently, only 7 per cent are somewhat confident that they would be made aware of changes and disruptions during their journey, while only 16 per cent felt that they are treated equally compared to people without hearing loss.