Tactile maps pave the way for improved access for blind people at railway stations


Blind and partially sighted train travellers can now navigate their way around more railway stations thanks to the arrival of new tactile maps which can be read by touch or sight.

Leading sight loss charity RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) has worked closely with Virgin Trains to help it become the first train company to install ‘RNIB Maps for All’ in all the stations it manages on the east coast route – spanning from Berwick to Peterborough.

The maps provide key information such as the location of platforms, toilets, shops and cafes by using a mix of raised large print, braille and tactile symbols. They are located close to the station entrances to help travellers with sight loss prepare for their journey more easily.

Almost two million people in the UK are living with sight loss and it is predicted that this number will nearly double by 2050. According to RNIB’s recent My Voice research, one quarter of blind and partially sighted people said they were not able to travel by train as much as they would like. The most common reason for this is due to a lack of help or support on trains or at stations.

RNIB campaigns for better transport accessibility and works with bus and rail companies to make journeys as easy as possible for people with sight loss.

Neil Heslop, Managing Director, RNIB Solutions, said: “We’re pleased to have worked with Virgin Trains East Coast in finding an effective solution to make the stations they manage more accessible for people living with sight loss.

“We will continue to work with industry to look at other ways in which people living with sight loss can travel with greater confidence and independence.”

Kawal Gucukoglu, who is registered blind and has tested out the Peterborough map, said: “I like the fact it’s a map for everyone – there’s not a separate one for people with and without sight loss. It’s very clear to use with good Braille and print lettering. Tactile maps are a great idea and will come in useful for loads of travellers.”

Debbie Ambler, Virgin Trains Programme Delivery Manager, said: “We are committed to working with partners like RNIB to find new ways to make journeys more accessible and enjoyable for all our customers. The tactile maps at stations across our network allow blind and partially sighted customers freedom and independence when travelling.

“Both at stations and on board our trains, our people are trained to offer brilliant service to all our customers. We also have a dedicated team that disabled customers and their friends and family can contact in advance to plan for their journey.”

RNIB has a track record of working with businesses across all sectors, both in the UK and internationally, to develop innovative products, deliver both generic and customised training solutions and provide consultancy services to help support people with disabilities. For more information visit our dedicated RNIB Business website at RNIB-Business.org.uk , call a member of the team on 01733 375 370 or email businesslink@rnib.org.uk

About RNIB

Every 15 minutes, someone in the UK begins to lose their sight. We are the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and we’re here for everyone affected by sight loss – that’s almost 2 million people in the UK. If you, or someone you know, has a sight problem, RNIB can help. Call the RNIB Helpline on 0303 123 9999 or visit www.rnib.org.uk

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