The Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children in Kings Cross, London, has installed a two-way IP audio-video intercom designed and manufactured by Castel.
The school, which uses both British Sign Language (BSL) and English, has implemented Castel’s Xellip IP intercom system to allow pupils and reception staff (who may also be hearing-impaired) to interact more effectively. Xellip is a full-IP/SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) solution that will operate across various IP communication networks. The system is also noted for its rigorous compliance with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA.)
In addition to the access and exit functionality at the reception, Xellip gives the school various options for releasing doors remotely, as well as messaging. Power over Ethernet (PoE) means a single network cable can be used for powering the intercom, as well as transmitting audio, video and data. Crucially, calls to reception at the school can be diverted out of hours to multiple locations, if required.
The core function at Frank Barnes is the use of colour video cameras on the entry stations and master reception stations so that sign language can be used to communicate clearly. Receptionists also benefit from Xellip’s user-friendly software for incoming calls, creating total intercommunication between staff and pupils over an IP network.
The Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children is noted for its early adoption of innovative technology throughout its activities, both on the school campus and in its use of new types of teaching materials. Based on the SIP protocol and common codecs for audio and video, Xellip ensures interoperability with other systems such as VoIP telephones and IP video surveillance.
As a full-IP solution, Xellip allows remote configuration by the integrator or the client’s facility management team through any Internet browser using an embedded web server. Minimising the hours engineers have to spend on-site allows users to focus on their core activities without disruption. With this school application, Xellip helps users with hearing problems, while features such as full-duplex audio, including noise and echo-cancelling, are vital. At other sites, coloured LED pictograms and Braille keypads assist users with visual impairments.
Stuart Hibberd, Castel’s UK Sales Director, said: “Quality of acoustic and visual signals at a school site of this kind is crucial. It’s rewarding to see our R&D benefiting a learning community where staff as well as pupils need to cope with exceptional challenges. This particular installation is a reminder that audio-video technology can be used to optimise communication in many environments beyond mainstream commercial and residential usage.”
The Frank Barnes School for Deaf Children is one of several educational facilities to benefit from the largest regeneration initiative seen in London in the past 150 years. The ‘P1’ mixed-use scheme is transforming a 67-acre neighbourhood in Kings Cross, with offices, homes, leisure and community facilities, as well as schools and an art college.
With a national and international reputation as a centre of excellence for deaf education, Frank Barnes is rated as 'outstanding' by Ofsted. Children aged two to 11 from a range of different backgrounds across Greater London attend the school. Equal value is placed on sign language and English, with teachers making every effort to ensure that pupils have appropriate skills and abilities in both. Students, parents and the wider community (both deaf and hearing) also benefit from the school’s core and extracurricular programmes.