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Winter travel disruptions and Deaf people

Winter in the UK – will it snow or won’t it?

There is usually a prediction of some snow over the winter months but rarely does it actually happen. We always seem to get a good slush though! Because we rarely do see a heavy, deep snow, when it does happen, everything gets disrupted. Trains, tubes, buses and the roads all get clogged up and slow down. How can this white stuff cause so much trouble!

When the bad weather does come in, we are all told to listen out for announcements, listen to the radio for traffic announcements and check the news. When I hear this, I think, but what about deaf people. How do they keep in the know about travel delays and cancellations.

Just last year, when the ‘beast from the east’ came to Britain, I was standing on a train platform to hear announcement after announcement that for the direction I needed to go in, all trains were cancelled. I noticed that on the screens, it showed that trains were cancelled but it only showed this for the next 3 trains coming.

How would deaf people know that standing around waiting for the next train would prove to be a waste of time as none were coming.

It could also be very confusing trying to understand the information on the screens, even if they do show all the information that is being sounded. Should I stay and wait? Should I go a different way? What other options are there? They could ask a member of staff for help. Would this communication be smooth and easy? Potentially not.

Finding and reading traffic announcements and news online can also be just as confusing. Are the roadworks still causing queuing traffic? Has the traffic started flowing? When does the road closure start (and finish)? Travel disruptions really can be frustrating.

For me, having a smartphone has been a lifeline. I always plan my journey in advance and when snow and ice are forecast, I ensure I have a back-up plan as well.

Therefore, this is my advice to you too:

Make use of smartphone apps, Google and read up on traffic news before you travel. If trains or tubes are cancelled or delayed, the apps show this so check before you leave.

Google and other map apps are good at showing where slow moving traffic is and where roads are closed so again, check your route before you leave. This will really make a difference as you can better judge when to leave, which way to go and where to avoid.

Finally, let us all be mindful of deaf people and the fact they might not be aware of announcements made in stations, on buses, tubes and trains.

Never give up on communication – lets all try to help each other when (and if) the bad weather hits.


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