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Airport Emergency Communications for People with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs

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TRB's Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Research Report 201 provides guidance and tools for airports to aid in effective communication with passengers and persons with disabilities, including those with cultural and language differences.

The report includes a primer that discusses issues, techniques, and the unique requirements and challenges of communicating with people with disabilities and others who have access or functional needs.

The report explores uses of technology and other methods that incorporate ADA considerations and communication challenges with airport stakeholders, and training programs for airport personnel, including templates for development of curricula.

There are case study examples of methods of emergency communication at airports and in other industries, and for universal messaging for emergency communications.

The project that produced the report also produced templates in support of airport emergency plans specifically addressing individuals with limited English proficiency, step-by-step tools that include a needs assessment tool that airports can use to determine what steps must to be taken to comply with ADA requirements concerning communications, and templates/worksheets/checklists for planning tabletop exercises that focus on communicating with people with disabilities and access or functional needs during emergency events. These resources are described and linked to below.

  • The Inventory Checklists (from Appendix A) list plans, reports, documents, programs, and services that are helpful in emergency communications for DAFN. The checklists make it easy to review what the airport has in place, what needs to be developed or updated, etc.
  • The Accessibility Walkthrough Worksheet (from Appendix B) is a tool to structure evaluations (ideally conducted by members of a DAFN Advisory Group, as discussed in the report) that identify and assign accessibility ratings to existing communications modes and resources from curbside through baggage claim, and identify modes or resources that can be added or improved.
  • The FAA Airport Accessibility Checklist (from Appendix C) is reproduced online in PDF for convenience; a url is provided that directs users to the FAA source.
  • The Accessibility Strategy Quick Reference Guide (from Appendix D) summarizes key aspects of core, enhanced, and emerging strategies described in the report.
  • The CONOPS Template (from Appendix F) provides generic text for an Emergency Communications Concept of Operations document that airports can edit to meet their needs and those of the communities they serve.
  • The Disability Equity Training document provides training content, including empathy exercises, from Appendix G in a format that can be adapted and customized for use by practitioners.
  • The 1-Minute Read Poster (from Appendix H) provides a reproducible, one-page reference on how to offer and provide assistance respectfully to people with DAFN.
  • The Outreach Brochure (also from Appendix H) is provided in a separate downloadable file for use and distribution by practitioners.
  • The Exercise Toolkit (from Appendix I), with checklists and materials to support a discussion-based exercise and a full-scale, operational exercise, is reproduced in Word to facilitate adaptation and use by practitioners.
  • The Prepared Scenario Vignettes (from Appendix J), which can be used to lay the foundation of a discussion-based or tabletop exercise.


Suggested Citation

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Airport Emergency Communications for People with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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140 pages |8.5 x 11



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