On December 9th, The MTA and MTA Long Island Rail Road unveiled a “talking kiosk” to help visually impaired and other other customers navigate the concourses, passageways and platforms of the Penn Station. The kiosk features a touch-activated, tactile map of the station, vivid visual displays for the partially sighted, and a voice designed for phonetic clarity. As a customer touches different parts of the map, the kiosk describes the corresponding location and gives directions of how to get there. It also offers general information about Penn Station and the LIRR.
The kiosk replaces a previous model which was located in the center of the main concourse opposite the entrance to to Tracks 14 and 15. The new version has expanded functionality and an improved user interface, a smaller size and is now wall-mounted directly adjacent to the entrance of Track 14. To help visually impaired customers find the kiosk, it emits the song of the lark sparrow, a bird species native to the American West that is found by audiologists to have a unique set of of phonetic properties that make it most effective at assisting in directional wayfinding.