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Aircraft toilet system makes life easier for the blind

A Hong Kong professor has devised a system making it easier for the visually impaired to use the toilets on an aircraft

The BrailleWise concept uses strips of Braille lettering around the lavatory cubicle that provide direction signs to the various facilities in the washroom.

Upon entering the lavatory, the visually-impaired passenger will be able to immediately feel the presence of the Braille wall-sections at waist level. By running his or her fingers along the beam the user will be able to instantly find directions to facilities such as the toilet bowl, the flush handle, the toilet roll and the wash basin.

"Using the toilet in public places is not that straightforward for the visually impaired," said the system's designer, Professor Michael Siu of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

"Finding their way around in unfamiliar territory is a big challenge for them. That's why they would usually avoid using public toilets by not eating and drinking - but this is not healthy."

The tactile signs on the Braille section of the washroom cubicle show the names of the various washroom amenities along with upward or downward arrows pointing to their locations.

The BrailleWise concept has already won a number of design and innovation awards and accolades. However, though airlines around the world have praised the idea, none has yet agreed to install the BrailleWise concept into their aircraft lavatories.


  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • Michael Siu