4.0 Overview

Vision impaired people become aware when they are approaching an escalator as a result of different environmental stimuli. It might be a different floor texture (e.g. that covers the escalator mechanism), the vibrations close to the escalator or the sound the escalators make when they are moving.

When vision impaired people are about to step onto an escalator they tend to look for the handrail as an indicator of the direction of the escalator. When they are on the escalator they tend to hold the handrail for safety and also as an indicator of when the end of the escalator is approaching.

White cane users tend to put their cane against the next step in the escalator. This acts as an additional indicator when the end of the escalator is near. A guide dog user may stand with one foot ahead of the other for the same reason.

The side of the escalator on which people are encouraged to stand can vary between countries. In the UK, for example, in many transport environments, it is recommended that people stand on the right hand side of the escalator, while those who wish to walk up or down move on the left. Although not critical, an audio reminder for vision impaired people may well prevent them being pushed by other passengers.

4.1 Announcing direction of travel of escalator

Vision impaired people need information about the direction they need to follow in order to orientate themselves. For example:

Walk forward and take the escalator down to the platforms.
Walk forward and take the escalator up to the main concourse.

If there is more than one escalator it is vital that vision impaired people are directed to the one they require. For example after the instructions above it would be helpful to have these follow up instructions:

... Both escalators are going down.
... The up escalator is the one on the left.
... The two escalators going up are the ones on the left.

Given this information vision impaired people are to be expected to stand on the side of the corridor close to the escalator. Alternatively if they are not in a corridor, they may be able to understand from the noise of the escalators and the flow of people around them which escalator they need to take. If in doubt they will ask staff or other passengers.

In some cases, the direction of the escalator is likely to change often during the peak hours. This change should be taken into account and the instructions should be updated accordingly.

4.2 Announcing proximity of escalators

If the instruction about taking the escalator is given more than 25 +/-1 metresĀ in advance, an additional instruction is needed 8 +/-1 metres before the escalator to reassure vision impaired people that they are moving towards the escalators as intended. For example:

You are approaching the escalators.

4.3 Indicating next move while travelling on the escalator

When vision impaired people are travelling on an escalator they need to be prepared for their next move when they step off the escalator. This will enable them to avoid being pushed from behind by other passengers or prevent others from getting off the escalator behind them. For example:

At the bottom of the escalator, turn left and walk forward to the ticket gates.