Kate's Story

Meet Kate:

Kate is autistic. She is currently supported in her travel by a companion provided by the Social Services, which requires booking and is costly.

She is fairly tech-savvy, and uses her phone to communicate and email. She is capable when supervised and doesn’t require intensive help, just support guidance so that she feels safe and in control. Her prime need is security and simplicity. She dislikes train and bus travel, as interaction is difficult for her.


Kate’s Journey:

Kate is going to Manchester from Stockport. She knows which train she is using and has her tickets already – she is familiar with Stockport but not Piccadilly station.

Kate wakes up and uses her phone to check that her train is running, using her phone’s ‘talk to me’ functionality in the App&Town app.

Her journey and profile has been inputted in advance by her guardian, which allows end-toend support including location photographs at key points and a quiet route tailored to avoid crowds.

Kate requires navigational help in the walking route, so she is directed to the bus stop via her smartphone. At key points in the route, she is shown pictures that indicate where she should go (in line with the NAS recognised story book approach).

When Kate reaches the bus stop, she uses App&Town to track the arrival of her bus. She is also supported at the bus stop by The React System, whose ‘talking signs’ provide up-to-date announcements telling her in real-time when her bus is due to arrive.

She feels supported by the apps on her phone, safe and confident that she is on the right route – she knows that if she boards the wrong bus or walks in the wrong direction, she will be advised to get off at the next stop and/or turn around. Depending on how confident she is, Kate can receive instant support by being rerouted automatically, or engaged in a phone conversation to get her back on track by a dedicated control room or guardian who can be instantly advised of an issue.

Through The React System, the bus operator has been advised that there is an autistic person waiting at the specific stop, who has communicated this information to the driver of Kate’s bus. Thanks to this advanced warning, the bus driver is able to offer a sympathetic service that will help Kate feel relaxed and avoid any unnecessary friction.

When Kate gets on the bus, the driver announces the destination and number – something he would not always do, but it reassures Kate that she is boarding the correct bus.

Once on the bus and safely seated, Kate receives information as to how she is progressing on her app, which advises her well in advance when she needs to disembark.

As she arrives at Stockport Station, her app confirms that she will be leaving the bus soon, allowing Kate to stand up and make her way to the front of the bus in plenty of time. Once she disembarks, she follows the walking instructions on App&Town to reach Stockport Station main entrance from the alighting point.

On approaching Stockport Station, Kate’s National Standard RNIB React trigger app is recognised by the entry beacon (React’s Wayfinder announcer system) located at the entrance to the station, which sends an alert to station staff that someone seeking assistance has arrived in the station.

This Wayfinder audio announcer announces that the information point is approximately 50m ahead of her down the steps, showing a picture of the steps in advance, and offers audio instructions of how to reach the information point safely. 

As Kate approaches the information point, the React trigger app is also recognised by another beacon, which allows Kate to choose her train service and receive information in real-time about what platform her train is departing from and at what time.

She is then directed to her platform using low-power beacons as a navigational device. Her route involves going through a tunnel which otherwise would have caused Kate to panic, but because she is given advanced warning via a picture of the tunnel in plenty of time, Kate feels relaxed and in control.

As she approaches the platform along the tunnel there is no GPS in the tunnel, so the navigation is taken over by The React System, which uses low-power beacons to navigate Kate to her correct platform.

Once they arrive at the platform, the train is already there, so her phone announces the carriage numbers incrementally as she walks along. When she reached her carriage, Kate gets on the train.

Once on the train, Kate is advised which direction to take on her  app to get to her seat, and advised where to place her luggage.

As she approaches her seat, she is advised via her app that she is  getting close. Once seated, Kate’s app continues to give her updates about when the train is due to depart, which offers her reassurance that she is on the correct train and the service is operating on time.

As the train leaves the station, the in-train announcement keeps her updated with the upcoming stations regularly, whilst her phone offers additional support by advising how long until she has to disembark.

Through her app, she is advised to prepare in good time when her  station is coming up, and packs up her belongings. She moves toward  the luggage rack using directional aids from her app, and once there  her phone recognises her luggage using Near-Field Communication (NFC), allowing Kate to collect her correct luggage quickly and easily.

As they are waiting to disembark the train, the app advises her  which side of the train she will be leaving from when the train  arrives at the station.

As Kate approaches the exit gate, a Wayfinder audio announcer at the destination station tells her that she is approaching and that she should have her ticket ready. The station is alerted that she is present in the station, and she is offered the option to ask for assistance if necessary.

Kate’s phone navigates her through the station to the exit  and towards the bus station using Bluetooth beacon navigation for the final stage of her journey.

The station’s Wayfinder system hands over to the GPS app, where Kate is able to get real-time information about when her bus is expected to arrive.

Via the React Interactive system, the bus operator has been advised in advance that there is a person with additional needs waiting at the bus stop. This avoids embarrassment for a person with an invisible disability, and helps the driver offer a sympathetic and helpful  service that lets Kate embark the vehicle with ease.

Once on the bus, Kate receives regular information, including  pictures of her destination, about the bus journey in real-time  through her App and the talking signs on the bus. Kate is also given advanced warning when to disembark.

She arrives at her stop and, with the help of the bus driver who has been made aware of the situation in advance, gets off the bus and then follows the walking instructions on App&Town to reach her final destination.

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