HLAA once again joined the Access Board’s two-day meeting of the Rail Vehicle Access Advisory Committee (RVAAC) February 27-27, 2015. HLAA serves on the Communication subcommittee, which looks how to make these rail cars accessible to people with vision and hearing loss. At that meeting, mobility, visual and audible access to rail cars was discussed.
Exciting news was shared at that meeting. Rail cars in California, in partnership with Amtrak are working on rolling out a communication system on each train car that would provide visual, text messages for all audible announcements. In addition, those messages would be linked to a hearing loop system in that car. This system is intended to provide both prerecorded announcements, and any live announcements that need to be provided. Caltrans, the California state agency that is responsible for highway, bridge and rail transportation, expects to go live with the system in approximately 16 to 18 months.
We wish them much success. If they do well, it will not be long before many trains and transit systems will be able to provide the same or similar message boards in their own rail cars.