In this section
Some vision impaired people correctly identify when they arrive on a platform as a result of stimuli such as an alteration in the movement of air around them, the number of people standing close to them and the sounds coming from the train. This is not true for everyone. It is therefore vital to make an announcement prior to their arrival on the platform, both to warn them that they are entering a platform area and to make them aware of the type of platform, for example, an island platform.
Platforms are considered the most challenging part of a station for a number of reasons but primarily because of the risk of falling on to the tracks. In many countries, mainline railway and metro stations have tactile paving warning of the edge of the platform. Vision impaired people look for this in order to be aware of where they are in relation to the edge of the platform. Some metro stations have sliding doors between the train and the platform to reduce the risk of falling down on to the tracks.
Live information about the next train is extremely helpful for vision impaired passengers who need to know the direction of travel of the train.
Secondly, it can be challenging to know where the train doors will be when the train stops to ensure easy boarding of the train. Many transport operators cannot predict precisely where the doors will be when the train stops.
Thirdly, it is vital to communicate the location and size of any gap between the train and the platform edge and whether it is a step up or down to the train. Additionally, any difference between the lengths of the train and the platform must be communicated. Vision impaired users need this information to step on and off safely.
Guidance is needed when some vision impaired users get off the train so that they can make their way safely to the nearest exit from the platform.
8.1 Announcing arrival on the platform
It is advisable to announce that passengers have reached the platform when they are about to board the train. For example:
You are now at the [Southbound] [Central] line platform.
After the escalator, you will be on the [Southbound] [Central] line platform.
On some platforms there will be tracks on either side, i.e. on island platforms. This should be announced:
You are now at a platform where trains leave from both sides. Southbound [Central line] trains leave from the right. Northbound [Central trains] leave from the left.
8.2 Determining orientation in relation to the platform edge
It is necessary to communicate with vision impaired passengers so that they can understand where they are in relation to the platform edge and the train. For example:
You are now at the platform. The trains leave in front of you.
You are now at the platform. The trains leave from your left.
You are now at the platform. The platform edge is on your left.
Suggestions for further investigation
The following paragraphs are not guidelines but suggested areas for future investigation through user research.
s8.1 Determining position in relation to the platform length
Vision impaired passengers require information to determine exactly where they are on the platform in relation to the platform length. This information is valuable because again it provides more clues to help them make sense of space. Some vision impaired people might also want to board a specific section of the train if this will help them find the exit more easily when they leave the train. For example:
You are standing at the front part of the platform.
s8.2 Determining orientation in relation to the direction of travel
To assist vision impaired passengers it is recommended that there is an announcement about the direction of approach of the train. For example:
The train will arrive from your left as you face the platform edge.
s8.3 Announcing close proximity of two platforms
Where two platforms are very close to each other, but are not island platforms, vision impaired passengers require guidance about the correct platform that they wish to take. For example:
You are now at the platform. [Central] line trains leave from the platform on the left.
s8.4 Warning if platform is part of pedestrian route
In some cases the route to another platform or an exit goes via a platform. As platforms are a potentially risky area for passengers it is recommended that vision impaired users are advised that they are required to walk along a platform so that they may be aware of the platform edge.
s8.5 Announcing nearest way out before leaving the train
On exiting a train vision impaired people will generally want to move away from the platform as quickly and safely as possible by the nearest exit.
Taking into account the need for safest route, as seen in Section 2.5, it is advisable therefore to provide directions that avoid routes involving negotiating other platforms if possible.