A DEAF Brit has slammed the UK train services as “inaccessible”, after being forced to use Instagram’s automatic captions to decipher an otherwise-unheard cancellation announcement.
Kirsty-Jade was travelling to the Deaf Rave festival in London with her partner – who is also deaf – last month when their train from Leeds experienced technical issues.
Whilst the train driver made an announcement revealing that the London North Eastern Railway (LNER) train was in fact cancelled and returning to the station, 23-year-old Kirsty-Jade remained unaware.
The activist from Southport, Merseyside, relies on British Sign Language and so was forced to record the Tannoy announcement through Instagram, using automated captions on the video to tell her what was said.
After reaching Leeds again, Kirsty-Jade claims that she and her partner then underwent further issues as they were forced to use messages written on their phones to ask staff to book a taxi to King’s Cross – ultimately arriving in London at 4am.
Kirsty-Jade has now shared her experience in the hope of raising awareness of what many deaf people experience in their day-to-day lives.
Footage shows Kirsty-Jade sitting on an LNER train appearing to be enroute back to Leeds as a tannoy announcement can be heard in the background amid chat from other passengers.
On-screen text reads: “Inaccessible train announcements means going to Instagram to record and add captions to know what’s going on.”
Captioned text – which is what Kirsty-Jade claims to have relied on – can be seen as the driver says: “At the moment, we’re going to head back to Leeds.
“I apologise for the inconvenience. I will give you more information as we approach Leeds station.”
The captions appear to be only just managing to keep up with the announcement and include spelling mistakes as the driver continues: “Once again, I apologise for the inconvenience.”
Kirsty-Jade took to social media last month to share the shocking footage, writing: “Sigh.
“Another day in the life of a deaf person travelling on an inaccessible transport system in Britain.”
The post received hundreds of likes and dozens of comments as many people shared their thoughts on the post.
One person wrote: “Even as a hearing person I struggle with these announcements. Sometimes, they’re so unclear and if other people are too loud, I can’t focus my brain.”
Another said: “There is a real common theme in transport in this country of information not getting to where it needs to be, and we need to be doing so much.”
A third commented: “Every time I get on a bus/train and notice the visual bars not working, I always think about how inaccessible it is.
“Even those last-minute platform change announcements. It’s so terrible. Sorry, love. We should be doing better by now, for real.”
A fourth added: “You have an extremely good point. I hope things are improved soon.”
Speaking to Kirsty-Jade today, she said: “So, me and my partner who is also deaf – we were supposed to be getting the train down to King’s Cross that night to go to a festival called Deaf Rave for their 20th anniversary.
“Our train got cancelled as we got to the station. We were told to get the next one. We waited a good two hours.
“The next train was supposed to be due but said ‘delayed’ on the board. We had no idea what was going on.
“Staff were announcing but we couldn’t hear the announcements and people around us were talking but it was difficult to hear and lipread what was being said.
“The platform got so busy with a lot of people waiting. Eventually, the train arrived an hour later at about 21:50, so we got on it.
“It left Leeds, went to Wakefield and then was supposed to go to Doncaster, but before Doncaster, it stopped.
“Then moved again, then stopped. Then the staff made an announcement on the train, but we couldn’t hear it and no one around us was taking the time to let us know or type what was being said.
“I took the initiative to film on my Instagram story. Then, added the automatic captions to see what’s being said.
“That’s when we found out that the train was returning to Leeds. We got to Leeds and ended up having to use our notes app on the phone to ask one of the staff to book us a taxi to get to King’s Cross.
“We eventually got to King’s Cross at 4am but the aim of this story is really that it shouldn’t be a complex, inaccessible and worrying experience for deaf people to know what’s going on whilst travelling on public transport.
“Yes, we have the British Sign Language announcements in place in Leeds but in situations like this, how do deaf people access emergency situations?
“How do we know what is going on and who we can rely on? There’s a lot of questions we don’t have answers to but one thing I do know.
“If we, deaf people, are involved in the process of creating systems and technologies on public transport. It would be accessible from the start. We wouldn’t have these issues.”