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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 July, 2003, 07:43 GMT 08:43 UK
Talking lampposts for the blind
Units mounted on lampposts will broadcast messages
Talking lampposts are being introduced in a north London borough in an unusual project to help blind and partially-sighted people get around.

Twenty six units have been put up on walls and lampposts around Golders Green which broadcast messages telling people with sight problems their location.

Those carrying or wearing special cards trigger the messages when they get within eight metres of the units.

The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) hopes it will be an extra help for people negotiating busy streets.

"The system doesn't replace the need for a white cane or guide dog, but it will make a huge difference," said Mark Rose of disability consultancy JMU Access Partnership.

"With the help of these talking signs, blind and partially-sighted people will now know exactly where they are in the crowded streets, Tube and bus station of Golders Green".

'It will be very helpful'

The scheme was made possible by a 100,000 grant to the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) by financial services company Zurich.

It is not the only hi-tech positioning scheme to help the blind being tested this year.

In February the Spanish national blind organisation, Once, announced it was to test handheld devices which use satellite technology to allow people to keep track of their position.

Guide dog user Cyril Goldman, 60, said he was looking forward to wearing the new cards. He said: "I like the fact that you don't have to hold it - you can just slip in your pocket or wear it around your neck.

"It will be very helpful when I get on the bus near my home in Finchley and get off at Golders Green Station to walk down the road and visit my friends or go to Jewish Care's Karten CTEC Centre."

Golders Green residents can collect the cards from Jewish Care's Michael Sobell Community Centre from Thursday.

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