After successful indoor trials in shopping centres nationwide, the Royal National Institute for the Blind is introducing ‘talking lamp posts’ to streets and stations in Leeds City Centre.
Designed in-house at the Joint Mobility Unit, which is an RNIB and Guide Dogs for the Blind Association initiative, the wayfinding units are designed to help blind and partially sighted people find their way around the city.
When someone with an electronic card is within a 5-8m area of a wall-mounted message unit, it is triggered to broadcast directions for the surrounding area.
Messages are available in Gujerati, Urdu and Bengali as well as English, depending on which card is used.
The project has been developed by the Association of Blind Asians in Leeds and the Joint Mobility Unit. It is hoped that around 60 units will be operational in the city centre by the end of this year.
‘The street furniture had to be strong, waterproof and rugged,’ says JMU electronic signs consultant Tony Longley. ‘This shouldn’t be confined to Leeds. Similar systems can be installed in any area.’