Wayfinder in the city centre - navigation for the blind and partially sighted
The Wayfinder talking signs system is available in Birmingham city centre to help blind and partially sighted people to find their way around and improve access to transport, shopping, public services and visitor attractions.Using the REACT units developed through the Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB), users can access practical, audible information to help them to get to their destination.
The system also operates successfully in towns and cities including York and Leeds; other places currently installing REACT systems include Newcastle.
A total of 57 REACT units are currently available in the city centre, around railway stations, bus stops and taxi ranks, retail areas and civic buildings. It is hoped that a further two units will be added soon, with more planned for later in the year. The units have been mounted on either existing street furniture, such as street lamp columns or in new purpose built stainless steel posts located at the sides of pavements.
How it works
Birmingham's Wayfinder units work with the use of a trigger fob, available from either Birmingham Focus on Blindness or Birmingham Shopmobility. The trigger fobs are easily transportable on a belt clip, in a pocket or a handbag. Once a user is within a range of about 5 8 metres of a REACT unit, the trigger fob will activate a pre-recorded message like this:
"This is unit number 27 in Victoria Square at the top of Pinfold Street by the Post Office. Down the slope to your left is New Street and city centre shopping. Going up the slope to your right is the approach to the Town Hall, Council House, Chamberlain Square and Central Library."
Providing a trigger fob is stored correctly, it should last for a minimum of 2 3 years and is compatible for use with other REACT systems around the country.
Trigger fobs are available free of charge from Birmingham Focus on Blindness and Birmingham Shopmobility and users are asked to complete a short registration form. Each trigger fob is issued with an information pack containing instructions, details of the locations of the units and a feedback form.
To find out further information on Birmingham's Wayfinder or to obtain a trigger fob, please contact:
Birmingham Focus on Blindness
Who has been involved
Wayfinder is an initiative of Birmingham City Council's City Centre Management team, working in partnership with many other agencies including:
- Birmingham City Centre Partnership,
- The Royal National Institute of the Blind (RNIB),
- Birmingham Focus on Blindness,
- Guide Dogs for the Blind,
- Queen Alexandra College,
- National Federation of the Blind,
- Access Committee for Birmingham/Shopmobility,
- Deafblind UK,
- BBC WM 95.6FM,
- MK Design, and
The council would like to thank our partners for their advice and assistance with Wayfinder, ensuring that the needs of the users are met.
Feedback on Wayfinder is essential for the future development of the system. Users with therefore be asked to give their views to firstname.lastname@example.org on the locations of the units, message content, and the need for messages in other languages, as they are currently available in English only.