Train operator to pilot sign language announcements

A train company operating in Wigan is set to interpret its announcements into British Sign Language (BSL) on some of its services.
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Passengers will first see the new BSL visuals on trains on Northern services between Manchester Victoria and Leeds to interpret information such as station announcements.

Census data in 2021 showed that in addition to spoken languages, BSL was the main language of 22,000 people.

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Marc Silverwood, onboard systems manager at Northern, said: “We know that rail travel can be daunting for anyone with specific needs, and I really hope this makes a difference to give people confidence to travel by rail.

“International Day of Sign Languages which will take place on September 23, has really driven this home to us – we want to make a difference to our customers and provide for them as needed.”

Northern is looking for partners – charities, organisations or experts who could help provide sign language interpreters for the project.

The train operator aims to have the trial up and running but the end of the year.

Mr Silverwood added: “We’re looking out for people who could help with this scheme to interpret our announcements and who could share their expertise with us – so we can create the best possible service for our BSL passengers.”

Northern is the second largest train operator in the UK, with 2,500 services a day to more than 500 stations across the North of England.

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