handset from telephone exchange for use by blind operators, 1977

1977 in United Kingdom

Telephone handset from PABX 7 switchboard used with a special interface for blind operators, made by Post Office Telecommunications, British, 1977.

In 1977, a project was begun at Imperial College, in partnership with the Royal National Institute for the Blind, to develop an interface unit that would allow blind telephone operators to use modern telephone exchanges. Previously, blind operators had relied on touch, with the standard flashing lights of a telephone exchange unit being replaced with pins that would protrude to indicate different functions. However, this was proving inadequate for the levels of information being made available by telephone exchanges. A new interface unit was designed by Graeme Wood, a post-graduate student at Imperial College, which instead gave basic audio instructions to blind operators. This set was the pioneer equipment that was installed at the Royal National Institute for the Blind.

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Science Museum: Information Age Gallery: Exchange

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Object Number:
copper (alloy), metal (unknown) and plastic (unidentified)
overall (not including wires): 75 mm x 188 mm x 48 mm, .16 kg
telephone component
  • component - object
  • telephone
Donated by The Tana Trust

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