Major airports told to make air travel more accessible for passengers with sight loss
Thursday, 15 December 2016
Last week, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) published guidelines to help passengers with sight loss and other hidden disabilities get better support when travelling at UK airports.
The guidelines include making sure passengers receive more effective communication ahead of their journey in accessible formats.
Key guidelines for airports also include:
Clear images and audio messages should be available throughout the airport to help passengers find essential points such as toilets, quiet areas and assistance points
People with sight loss and hidden disabilities should have the option of wearing a lanyard, bracelet or other suitably designed aid provided by the airport to ensure they are easily identified by staff and can get the assistance they need.
Airports should consider facilitating 'familiarisation visits' or open days for passengers prior to their day of travel to help them experience the airport and aircraft environment
Airports should provide a quiet area to wait for flights and quiet routes through the airport, for example bypassing the retail area. This will make travelling through the airport less stressful and disorientating.
The guidance has been agreed following CAA consultations with airports and disability organisations.
Thirty of the largest UK airports have been asked to make the improvements to their special assistance service and to report back to the CAA on the changes made next year.
Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, said: “We welcome the CAA's tailored guidance which provides a great opportunity for all UK airports to better meet the needs of people with hidden disabilities. I would encourage airports to learn from each other, consult with charities and specialist groups and deliver great services, to help ensure passengers with hidden disabilities enjoy the huge benefits of air travel.”
Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer's Society, said: “Everyone has the right to be able to travel comfortably and with ease, and we all have a role in helping air passengers with dementia feel like they're able to continue flying. Sadly, we know that airports can be a daunting or frightening experience for many people affected by dementia - this can put people off travelling and in turn lead to them feeling socially isolated.This new guidance from the CAA will provide clear guidelines to help UK airports become more dementia friendly and transform the air travel experience for people with dementia and their carers.”