Airline Industry takes accessibility seriously.

The Airline Industry and Accessibility

Some exciting things are happening with accessibility in the airline industry. InterAccess have been for the last 6 months working with award winning Irish software company ‘Datalex’ who were voted the ‘World’s Leading Travel Merchandising Solution Provider’ at the 2014 World Travel Awards.

Datalex build the retail platforms that power the websites of Aer Lingus, Air China, Air Transat, Brussels Airlines, Delta Air Lines and more. So what brought this about?

InterAccess worked on the accessibility of the Datalex ‘Travel Distribution platform’ (TDP) in order to make sure that it can be used by the widest possible audience, including users of Assistive Technology.

This accessibility related work is being taken seriously by the airline industry because of the  DOT (Department of Transport) Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) which aims to ensure people with disabilities cannot be discriminated against when using air travel. This means that passenger rights when it comes to accessing planes, buildings and indeed online information need to addressed by the airline industry if they fly in or out of the US.

The ACAA has several rules of interest that will mean the accessibility of facilities both on the aircraft and in the airport are designed in a way that meet diverse user needs. In an amendment to the ACAA the ‘Websites and kiosks’ rule means also that by Dec 12 2015 airlines have to make core functionality of their information and services accessible to persons with disabilities.Websites are required to satisfy the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) success criteria (AA).

This ruling relates to ‘Core functions’ of an air carriers site, so by Dec 12 this year the following must be accessible:

  • Booking or changing a reservation (including all flight amenities)
  • Checking-in for a flight.
  • Accessing a personal travel itinerary.
  • Accessing the status of a flight.
  • Accessing a personal frequent flyer account.
  • Accessing flight schedules.
  • Accessing carrier contact information.

Phase 2: All remaining pages must be made compliant by December 12, 2016.

The requirement applies to U.S. and foreign airlines for travel within, to or from the United States.  You can see more of the federal DOT ruling on ‘Accessibility of Web Site and Automated Kiosks at U.S. Airports’ .

To make this happen, InterAccess worked with Datalex on extensive accessibility auditing of their TDP platform, user testing involving people with disabilities and general training and knowledge transfer.

NOTE: If you are travelling in the US, and you have a disability, check out the ‘Ultimate Guide to Air Travel with a Disability‘ – it has some useful contact details and overview of common issues as well as the services provided by different carriers in the US.