Voice Announcements – Frightening or Reassuring?
Posted on Aug 26, 2016 by Nick
On the tram I listen as the voice announcement comes over the airwaves. Not bothering to rise until she says in her robot-mimicking-human style voice “the next stop is Moorbridge”
I reach the train station and collect my pre-purchased ticket from the machine before settling down with my overpriced coffee to wait for my train.
I’m on Platform 3a as instructed by the departures board. I’m reassured as another voice comes over the airways telling me that the next train is for Leicester and is on time.
As I wait impatiently for the 3 minutes left to board I hear another announcement. This time a male human voice comes over the airwaves sounding far less clear because of the archaic tannoy system at the station. As the announcement comes to an end I observe a crowd of people on the opposite Platform 1 move like a shoal of fish towards the stairs. Quiet and compliant they follow the instructions to change from Platform 1 to Platform 4 due to a change in their scheduled train to somewhere I couldn’t make out.
I notice a few business types sigh at the inconvenience but still they do as they are told because they like all of us have learned to follow that disembodied voice. Reassured that whatever is coming through the airwaves be it “mind the gap”, “first floor” or “in 400 yards turn left” can usually be trusted to get us to where we need to be or keep us safe.
Not designed to alarm or harm
It’s strange how when the same “disembodied voice announcement” is applied to assistive technology it can cause much fear and reservation. Why is that? Perhaps it is because we have too much experience, we are weighed down by expertise and conventional wisdom. Assistive Technology is not designed to alarm or harm people with dementia. Indeed different things will work for different people but all the more reason to create dynamic and innovative systems.
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