Sight Loss Councils shortlisted for a National Rail Award

Sight Loss Councils are excited to announce we have been shortlisted for a National Rail Award with Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) for our joint work to #MakeTransportAccessible for blind and partially sighted people.

We have partnered on a range of activities to increase accessibility for blind and partially sighted passengers. This includes introducing the free use of an innovative guiding app called Aira at Govia Thameslink Railway stations.

The app – named Aira Explorer – gives blind and partially sighted customers greater independence. The user places a video call with a trained advisor in North America who looks through the customer’s smartphone camera to guide them quickly around the station on speakerphone.

The advisor can help people with anything from checking the departure board and locating a platform, to finding a member of staff, ticket machine, coffee shop or toilet.

East Sussex SLC member, Linn, is being guided through Brighton train station whilst using the Aira app. The ticket barriers to the platforms are shown in the background.

Linn, East Sussex Sight Loss Council member, trialling AIRA at Brighton station

Additionally, we have also worked with them to design ‘Try a Train’ events. This is the first time GTR has aimed these events specifically at blind and partially sighted people.

Sight Loss Council Engagement Manager Dave Smith said:

“Sight Loss Councils have a long-standing relationship with Govia Thameslink Railway through our joint work to #MakeTransportAccessible to blind and partially sighted people using their stations.

“The success of this work is resulting in some more exciting new projects we are developing this year, designed to make a real difference for blind and partially sighted passengers.

“Watch this space for more details!”


Sight Loss Councils and Govia Thameslink Railway have presented to judges this week. The winners will be announced in September!

Members of Bedfordshire SLC are stood with Samantha Leftwich, Engagement Manager for East England. They are stood on a platform at Stevenage train station as part of the Aira trial. They are all holding their smartphones in one hand, their long cane in the other.

Bedfordshire Sight Loss Council during the AIRA trial at Stevenage station

About Sight Loss Councils

Sight Loss Councils are led by blind and partially sighted members and funded by Thomas Pocklington Trust. We advocate the needs of visually impaired people in our communities and work to improve access to goods and services at a local and national level.

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Publication date: 13 June 2024

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