Rail Safety and Standards Board

The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) provides support and facilitation for a wide range of cross-industry activities. RSSB is a not-for-profit company owned and funded by major stakeholders in the railway industry, but independent of any one party. The RSSB is in a position to influence further improvements to those already made by the rail industry in respect of accessibility improvements for disabled passengers.

Under the Disability Discrimination Acts of 1995 and 2005 (now the Equality Act 2010) service providers are required to ensure that their goods, facilities and services are accessible to disabled customers and this legal requirement extends to all aspects of rail travel. The rail industry is working hard to meet this challenge. 


In 2010 the RSSB sought to evaluate wayfinding systems in particular for blind and partially sighted customers at stations. The evaluation was to include a technical evaluation of wayfinding systems, and quantitative and qualitative market research with blind and partially sighted stakeholders, focusing in particular on their experience of using the RNIB REACT wayfinding system and on their broader experience of travelling by train.


As an Associate of The Railway Consultancy and Freeney Williams, Mary-Anne was asked to carry out the market research and stakeholder consultation, drawing on her considerable experience in this area. This involved her researching and securing blind and partially sighted participants throughout GB and ensuring that those taking part represented a wide range of blindness, visual and dual sensory impairments, and a broad age, ethnic and geographic mix. She designed research methods to gain insight into the experiences of visually impaired people and included telephone interviews, electronic questionnaires, focus groups, site visits to places where the REACT system is in place, and discussions with organisations of and for disabled people. Video recordings were made as insights were gained in order to illustrate the issues raised, and bring the participants to life for the client.


Understanding the issues faced by disabled passengers is critical in determining improvements that can be made. The research findings and the insights of blind and partially sighted passengers will give the RSSB the evidence they need to influence the rail industry as it considers the Railways for All strategy. The Market Research and Stakeholder consultation section of the report can be found on pages 25-56 of the published report: http://www.rssb.co.uk/sitecollectiondocuments/pdf/reports/research/T881_rpt_final.pdf