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Government invests in pioneering accessibility technology

Up-and-coming innovators and academics have been awarded government funding to help break down the barriers disabled people encounter when travelling.

According to statistics from the Department for Transport, they demonstrated that disabled adults in England made 26% fewer trips and travelled 41% fewer miles than those without a disability.

New pioneering technologies are set to hopefully encourage disabled passengers to use public transport more frequently, whilst increasing comfortability.  

The technologies have been developed by the 5 Accessibility Transport Research and Innovation Grant (TRIG: Accessibility) 2021 winners - a programme designed to help small businesses develop technology that will make transport systems “more inclusive, removing the barriers that prevent disabled passengers from travelling confidently, safely and with ease.”

The project is in partnership with Connected Places Catapult (CPC), and is focused on helping innovators and academics to propel their ideas to market quicker.

Some of the winning projects include an inimitable system that understands the special requirements of its user, navigating them from their front door to their destination, with access to staff via video call if additional support is need.

Another is an exceedingly realistic virtual reality simulation, placing users in rail stations and carriages, to help improve staff understanding of the challenges faced by commuters with a disability, and elevate the confidence of passengers when using the rail network.

Additionally, a project focused on building a more reliable experience for airport passengers needing assistance, providing an app to improve communication with airport staff, is also underway.

Accessibility Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, said “these 5 innovative projects will help make our transport network more open, stress-free and simple for disabled passengers, and I’m proud that we’re investing in unique technology to improve accessibility across the UK.”

“We’re committed to making transport accessible for all and this investment, along with the Inclusive Transport Strategy, will build a better, fairer network for the future.”

£600k will be awarded to winning firms to launch these projects. The trial period is due to be finished by the end of November 2021, and working prototypes will be showcased to the industry following this.

On August 18, 2021 RTM will be hosting a virtual event around improving passenger experience across our network. Register to attend here.

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