Below is the uncorrected machine-read text of this chapter, intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text of each book. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.
4 On any given day, diverse travelers, airport employees, tenants, airline staff, and members of the public occupy an airport. For most of these people, traditional communications, procedures, and wayfinding methods will be sufficient to help them successfully navigate the airport. However, the noise, crowds, and bustle of an airport can easily distract and overwhelm the senses, causing people to miss important information conveyed using signs, announcements, and text alerts. Regular, day-to-day communications are challenging for an airport, but emergency communications are even more difficult. Airports must provide real-time, accurate informa- tion that meets the diverse needs of their populations in a fluid manner to ensure the safety of travelers and staff. All communication happens on an individual level, regardless of the method of transmission. Ultimately, a message is received and deciphered by a single individual, and each individual interprets a message differently based on his or her education, background knowledge of the subject, and personal experience. For this reason, emergency communications must be as clear, concise, and direct as possible, leaving the least possible room for interpretation. An example would be the âRun, Hide, Fightâ communication model used for an active-shooter response. These three simple commands quickly and clearly communicate the strategies for responding to an active-shooter incident in order to save lives. The successful interpretation of emergency communications depends on a recipientâs ability to receive and comprehend the message. Traditional communications methods, such as public address (PA) systems or static signage, are designed to meet the needs of travelers who speak and read English fluently and may not be understood by individuals with LEP. For individuals who do not speak English, messages may need to be transmitted through other means, such as written translation, visual demonstration, or interpretation. During day-to-day operations, airports may have the time to find an interpreter to translate a message. During an emergency, however, interpreters may not be available within the critical evacuation timeframe or may not have access to the airport PA system. This is an example of how current communications accommodations used in airports for people with DAFN may not be sufficient in an emergency. All communications methods, particularly ones used to disseminate messages to people with DAFN, must be evaluated in light of an emergency to determine if an enhancement or alterna- tive strategy is needed to succeed in reaching the target population. For all airports, effective emergency communications encompass a variety of differing dis- semination methods and formats. Emergency information must reach everyone, and the most effective way to do that is to provide messages using a variety of tools, channels, and strategies. To determine effective communications strategies, those developing and implementing emer- gency communications systems must understand the needs of people with DAFN. The best way to understand what members of the DAFN community need in an airport is to ask them. C H A P T E R 2 Understanding Airport Accessibility
Understanding Airport Accessibility 5 At many airports, people with DAFN are already working onsite. Involving these individuals throughout the emergency communications planning processâincluding the steps outlined in this guidebookâwill improve the ability of emergency planners to determine which strategies are the most effective. Gaining first-hand knowledge of the benefits and challenges related to specific accessibility strategies can help emergency planners justify the need for improvements and make a stronger case for necessary enhancements to airport administration. Compliance and Accessibility During the course of this research project, airport representatives, as well as advocates for and members of the DAFN community, commonly cited the need for new or alternative mindsets for accommodating people with DAFN. Current compliance-driven and mobility- focused planning around airport emergencies, they averred, was generally insufficient. This approach is particularly inadequate as it relates to communicating with people with DAFN in airport emergencies. Varying regulations related to meeting the needs of people with DAFN were cited as a significant challenge. One interviewee stated that the differences range from exceedingly pre- scriptive, such as placement and size requirements for braille notices, to exceedingly vague. For example, one airport administrator stated, âEven the strictest interpretation of [the] ADA . . . [does not] require ASL [American Sign Language] speakers to be considered within the category of LEP.â It is true that individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing are not normally included in the definition of people with LEP, but ASL also can be considered a unique language, separate from English. Currently, these and other considerations are open to interpretation, and such variations lead airports to focus on regulations that are easier to meet. Even meeting the general, non-emergency, non-communicationsâspecific needs of people with DAFN can be significantly challenging for airport personnel. Thus, most airports are in the early stages of evaluating the potential emergency-related needs of people with DAFN. In that regard, they have not begun to evaluate specifics related to effective, efficient, and action- able emergency communications strategies. Airport administrators are becoming increasingly proactive in improving accessibility because they realize that serving people with DAFN is an essential part of customer service. Successfully accommodating passengers of all types will allow more patrons to use the airport and add to airport revenue. ADA Compliance in Emergency Communications The Department of Justice published revised final regulations implementing the ADA in 2010. As a Title III entity, an airport must meet the requirements in order to adequately support the communication needs of people with DAFN. Even though requirements exist for communi- cating with people with DAFN under the rules and regulations of ADA, minimal guidance is specific to emergency communications. ADA guidance continues to evolve, so airports should regularly review guidelines for updates. As part of the ADA requirements, an airport must provide âauxiliary aids and servicesâ when needed to communicate effectively with people with DAFN. These aids and services must also apply to communications with the parents, spouses, or companions of individuals with DAFN. When determining what aid or service is needed, it is important to consider the nature, length, complexity, and content of the communication and the personâs day-to-day methods of communication. Airport personnel are encouraged to ask the individual who has a DAFN what aid or service would be most effective. In an emergency, however, that is not always feasible.
6 Airport Emergency Communications for People with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs Therefore, it is important that the airport make available a variety of aids and services during non-emergency conditions that also can also effectively reach people with DAFN in a timely manner during an emergency. Some examples of aids and services cited in the ADA that could be used to accommodate people with DAFN under emergency conditions include: â¢ Audio recording of emergency information â¢ Information and signage in large print â¢ Information and signage in braille â¢ Screen reader software, magnification software, and optical readers â¢ Qualified interpreters, including sign language interpreters, oral interpreters, cued-speech interpreters, or tactile interpreters â¢ Written materials and emergency signage â¢ Printed script of emergency messages â¢ Assistive listening systems and devices â¢ Open captioning, closed captioning, real-time captioning, and closed caption decoders and devices â¢ Telephone handset amplifiers â¢ Hearing aid compatible telephones â¢ Text telephones (TTYs), videophones, captioned telephones, and other voice-, text-, and video-based telecommunications products â¢ Videotext displays It bears noting that to be considered âqualifiedâ an interpreter must be able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively (i.e., understanding what the person with the disability is saying) and expressively (i.e., having the skill needed to convey information back to that person) using any necessary specialized vocabulary. For the aids and services to be considered effective in a normal day-to-day situation, the individual who has a DAFN should not have to bring someone to interpret or facilitate the communication. An exception to this rule occurs during emergency situations. In that case, because it may be impossible to ensure that a qualified interpreter can be made available in a timely manner, the airport may rely on a companion to interpret information. For example, given the urgency of an emergency, the child or companion of an individual who is deaf may need to use sign language to alert the person with the DAFN of the emergency. Respectful Communication Creating an environment that fosters respect is the first step toward improving all com- munications, whether they consist of day-to-day customer service messages or emergency messaging. The practice of using âpeople-firstâ language is the first step toward breaking communications barriers. People-first language puts a person before his or her disability. The practice of using people-first language is a method of improving communications that can be implemented immediately to improve the customer experience and foster a more inclusive environment. Figure 2, adapted from content provided by the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities, gives examples of people-first language. Whole-Community Planning The term âwhole communityâ describes an inclusive philosophical approach for conducting the business of emergency management. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has established a whole-community framework that emphasizes the value in understanding
Understanding Airport Accessibility 7 Source: Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (2018) Figure 2. Examples of âpeople-firstâ language. and meeting the actual needs of the whole community, including members of the DAFN com- munity, engaging and empowering all parts of the community, and strengthening what works well in communities. This approach applies directly to airportsâ efforts to ensure that their emergency planning fosters an environment that is inclusive of all employees, travelers, and others using the facility. An example of how the whole-community approach applies to airport emergency planning is the development of evacuation plans that outline specific accommodations for individuals who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices. By working with community members or advocacy groups representing the DAFN community, airports can identify barriers to mobility
8 Airport Emergency Communications for People with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs that could present issues during an evacuation and determine ways to address these barriers. Doing so helps emergency planners take into account the needs of this segment of the whole community. An extension of the whole-community framework is the motto âNothing about us without us.â In other words, no policy should be decided without the full and direct participation of members of the group affected by the policy. This slogan, born out of the disability rights movement, is directly applicable to emergency management planning. Incorporating people with DAFN into emergency preparedness activities better clarifies needs and associated interventions in disasters. Community Partnerships An effective way to ensure that airport emergency planning encompasses the whole- community approach is to establish partnerships with community advocacy and non-profit groups representing the DAFN community. These groups can provide support and information to help develop emergency strategies that incorporate considerations for people with DAFN. Representatives from these organizations can provide valuable input into emergency plans, review and submit comments on plans, help review and develop training, and coordinate the participation of community members in airport exercises. Coordination with Community Non-Profits to Better Serve Travelers Airports are beginning to focus on opportunities to pre-plan for accommodations and enhance services for people with DAFN. One airport coordinates with local organizations that train guide dogs to bring puppies-in-training to the airport. This helps the dogs develop an understanding of navigating their airport from the curb to the plane. Another airport has partnered with a local hospital to work with patients with traumatic brain and spinal injuries. Before the patients are released from the hospital, airport staff offer tours and airline orientation, teach airport procedures, explain the TSA Cares program, and conduct a trial security screening. The hospital has reported that this removes significant anxiety for family members who will be traveling with their loved ones once they are discharged. Representatives from these community advocacy and non-profit organizations also can provide valuable consulting services, such as reviewing design plans for retrofits or new construction with professional building and design personnel to provide feedback on the accessibility of airport spaces. DAFN Advisory Group Advocates strongly suggest that airport emergency planners establish a DAFN advisory group that incorporates members from local community advocacy and non-profit organiza- tions representing people with DAFN. The group should include a committee of representatives from these organizations, airport employees with DAFN, airport emergency management staff, and airport managers and administrators. Coordinators of services for people with DAFN and emergency managers from the state, county, and/or city also can be invited to participate. The
Understanding Airport Accessibility 9 DAFN advisory group plays a vital role in developing an effective emergency communications strategy, conducting the airport needs assessment (detailed in Chapter 3), evaluating solutions (detailed in Chapter 4), assisting with exercises, and integrating considerations for people with DAFN into emergency preparedness programs (detailed in Chapter 5). The group also can help write preparedness exercises to address identified issues and after-action reports and improve- ment plans following actual emergencies. Representatives from a variety of DAFN advocacy organizations shared observations, planning considerations, and recommendations for whole-community emergency planning during the preparation of this guidebook. Their input demonstrates the valuable and innovative solutions these groups can contribute to the emergency planning process. Some of the observations and recommendations received from these representatives include: â¢ Enhanced evacuation training is needed, particularly for wheelchair and mobility-services providers. For example, people who use wheelchairs need evacuation assistance from air- planes and/or buildings. Additionally, evacuating individuals who are blind should be done in such a way that they are not separated from their service dogs. â¢ Messages must be sent using multiple methods and multiple languages to reach a broader audience. No single emergency communications solution applies to all populations. â¢ Employees who interact with people with DAFN must be compassionate, caring, and perceptive. One representative suggested that Transportation Security Administration (TSA) personnel could be asked to be more patient when assisting passengers with liquid feeding and medical equipment through security checkpoints. â¢ People with DAFN should participate in emergency exercises. Including people with DAFN, together with their durable medical equipment and service animals, will test acces- sibility strategies in real-world conditions. Innovative Community Partnerships Medical tourismâfamilies and patients traveling to seek high-quality or specialized medical treatmentâis increasingly significant as a customer base for airports. One airport reported providing a medical concierge line, assigning a special liaison, and conducting question-and-answer sessions with hospitals and medical institutions to learn the issues and needs of these patients and their families so that they can be included in customer service procedures or protocols. This process also has improved relationships between the airport and local medical centers in ways that can enhance coordination for emergency management efforts in response to disasters and mass casualty events. Universal Design Airports should aim to design facilities using universal design (âDesign for Allâ) principles, a strategy of product and service development based on the recognition that it is often easier and more cost-effective to address, incorporate, and integrate accessibility features during the design phase rather than to add such features for specific groups after construction has been completed. The aim of universal design is to design environments and products that, to the greatest extent possible, can be used by most people without the need for adaptation or special- ized design at extra cost.
10 Airport Emergency Communications for People with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs Meeting the needs of people with DAFN through universal design means making spaces functional for everyone, regardless of cognitive, physical, sociocultural, or other characteristics. Because it is not always possible to reconstruct spaces or replace products, people with DAFN and whole-community representatives must evaluate existing and proposed airport spaces, messaging, and communications tools to look for ways they can be improved. Communication Methods and Limitations for Emergencies Historically, communications needs for people with DAFN were categorized and described according to a âconditionâ or âdiagnosis.â Today, disability advocacy and service organizations recommend focusing on the functions that a person must perform in order to maintain health and well-being before, during, and after an emergency. Functions differ from needs in that functions refer to the actions or tasks that the person will take rather than to needs based on the personâs perceived vulnerability related to a diagnostic category or characteristic. A functions-based approach reduces stigmatization of population groups and provides emergency managers with clear and actionable information. This approach supports an integrated planning process for the whole community as opposed to separating a portion of the community as âspecialâ or âvulnerable.â This guidebook applies a functions-based approach to present visual, audio, tactile, and human-to-human communications that serve the whole community rather than individuals with a specific âdiagnosis.â This approach allows airports to develop effective communications programs that support all travelers and employees during or as a result of an emergency. For example, following a bomb blast, individuals who previously were able to hear may become temporarily hard of hearing and may not be able to receive information from a PA system. In this example, visual communication methods are important not only for individuals who are deaf. The remaining sections in this chapter discuss the benefits and limitations of visual, audio, tactile, and human-to-human communication formats. Accessible emergency communications requires a multi-modal, redundant approach. Ideally, airports should be able to implement several strategies for each of the four formats during an emergency, including one or more that are not reliant on power or Internet. Visual Communications Visual communications bombard airport passengers and employees in every area of the airport: signs, video monitors, electronic notice boards, and other technologies are ubiquitous. One round-table participant stated, âTo view the issue in a useful way, it is fundamental to understand that there is no such thing as a disabled person; rather, a person who is confronted by a disabling environment. We should therefore focus on changing the environment, not on trying to change people.â Another participant said, âIf new airports first considered how people will be moved around, especially those needing assistance, the whole design would be more efficient for everyone.â
Understanding Airport Accessibility 11 The implementation of emergency communications through visual means often can be accomplished using existing, off-the-shelf products and technologies with relatively simple modifications. Technologies such as video monitors and electronic notice boards are intui- tive to most users, and many travelers will know to look for these resources at the first sign of an emergency, particularly when announcements are inaudible due to alarms or noise. For this reason, visual communications methods are some of the most effective strategies for transmitting emergency communications accurately and effectively. Visual technologies are versatile and efficient in sharing both pre-planned and evolving emergency communications during an incident. They allow for the display of information in multiple languages simultaneously. Visual technologies also can use icons or other graphical designs to convey emergency messaging to people with LEP. Standardization of signage, such as exit signs and wheelchair-accessible placards, conveys messaging that is immediately recognized. Examples of standardized signage can be found in Appendix M. Visual communication strategies for emergency communications strive to provide simple and clear messaging without extraneous colors, graphics, or fonts. Pre-scripted messages, such as instructions for sheltering in place or directions to evacuation assembly areas, can be developed for different types of emergencies and in various languages ahead of time. Procedures for displaying emergency messages through visual displays should be documented, trained, and tested. The most significant limitation regarding visual technologies for emergency communications is that they are not accessible to people with visual impairments. Visual displays with text-only messages (as opposed to displays using icons or graphics) are not accessible to people with limited language capabilities or with limited literacy skills in that language. Visual displays also are accessible only to those people who are within the line of sight of the technology, meaning that only people in area immediately surrounding the visual display can see the message. Airports may have too few monitors to disseminate visual messaging widely and effectively. During an emergency, message boards and displays may be blocked or inaccessible, or they could break or have errors, further limiting the number of people who are able to view crucial messages. Audio Communications The use of PA systems is ubiquitous in airports, serving as the primaryâand often soleâ source of verbal messaging. Often, PA systems are also the primary method of verbal com- munication in emergencies. Adapting PA systems for use during an emergency requires prior development of emergency communications protocols, procedures, and pre-scripted messaging. It is important to determine the who, what, and when of PA emergency informationâwho is authorized to disseminate messages, what will those messages say, and when will they be sent. These policies must be included in plans and standard operating procedures. The process for disseminating emergency messages through the PA system should be documented, trained, and tested. Care should be taken to ensure that all persons using the PA system know how to commu- nicate using clear speech. Clear speech occurs when the speaker deliberately expresses every word and sentence in a precise, accurate, and fully formed manner. Additionally, knowing how to use the microphone at a proper distance and reducing background noise can increase the comprehensibility of PA messaging. Verbal communication will be a critical source of information during an emergency. It is important to consider how airport personnel will transmit emergency messaging. In an
12 Airport Emergency Communications for People with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs emergency, travelers will look to airport staff for information; therefore, it is important to train employees properly and prepare them to address inquiries effectively. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may not be able to effectively receive verbal messages. Verbal communication via the PA system is limited to the areas the system serves, and the system may be inaudible during an emergency or inoperable in the event of power loss or communications interference. Supplementing visual and audio or verbal communications with tactile and human-to-human communications supports a more comprehensive strategy for emergency communications. Tactile Communications The use of tactile technologies for emergency communications in airports has limited applications. The ADA mandates that braille and other tactile communications technologies be used on most signage throughout an airport. In an emergency, however, an individual who is blind may not have the time or means to locate this signage. Instead, it is likely that these individuals will rely on audio messaging or information relayed verbally from others in the area. No technologies currently employed at airports allow for the immediate transmission of emergency messages through tactile communications. Specialized devices and certain types of mobile phones can, however, translate messages into braille or other tactile messaging (such as tactile maps), and these devices may be available to individual travelers who are blind or who have visual impairments. Textured flooring often is used to support wayfinding in airports and other public places. Textured sections of walkways can be used to indicate changes in elevation or street entrances. Textured flooring offers an effective way to provide accessible wayfinding through an airport that also may be useful during an emergency or evacuation situation. Human-to-Human Communications Enhancing an airportâs human-response capabilityârather than relying on advanced technologyâcan be one of the most effective ways to support emergency communication with people with DAFN. This method involves using a group of trained and certified individuals to provide one-on-one communication in the event of an emergency. During an emergency, these individuals can provide human-to-human emergency communications that may include shouting directions (in English or in other languages); pointing to direct people to exits or designated sheltering zones; or physically leading persons who need assistance to evacuate the area. As explained by one airport representative, âmost often, human interaction has proven to be the best way to communicate at our airport. Signs and visual paging get overlooked, probably due to several factors. . . . Those with limited English have been observed reaching out to someone in their area to assist or to inquire into what is going on.â Additional types of human-to-human communication include speech reading and lip-reading, which can be especially useful for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Speech reading and lip-reading are most effective when both parties have been trained; however, in an emergency that may not be possible. Techniques that any speaker can use to help another person lip-read are to (1) speak normally and (2) use gestures or movements to emphasize speech. Gesturing can be an effective method of communicating urgent information in crisis situ- ations. Verbal directions are more easily and quickly understood when they are accompanied with associated gestures. For example, when telling people to move in a certain direction it is helpful to point in that direction, and when telling people to stop it is helpful to place oneâs
Understanding Airport Accessibility 13 hands palm forward and fingers up while saying the word âstop.â Emergency training for airport staff and volunteers should recommend using gestures that accompany verbal commands to reinforce the message. Several groups can provide human-to-human emergency communications during an incident or emergency. Existing employees can receive training that enables them to incorporate this into their duties, and/or new staff can be hired to perform this task (and can be assigned other tasks when they are not performing these duties). Airports may also consider developing a team of dedicated volunteers who can be trained to provide this service (e.g., through Airport Ambas- sador Programs). Several Canadian airports have stationed volunteers throughout the airport to provide assistance to travelers. These volunteers can be identified by their distinctive clothing (e.g., a hat or a vest of a specific color). The volunteers receive training prior to beginning their service, and their training could easily include instructions on how to communicate emergency information and how to assist people with DAFN during an emergency. Facilitate Speech or Lip Reading Many people who are deaf or hard of hearing can read lips. Some techniques speakers can use to make it easier for them to lip read are: 1. Talk at a normal rate and do not over-enunciate or exaggerate pronunciation. Talking too slowly or too quickly makes lip reading more difficult. 2. Never shine a light source in the face or eyes of a person with a hearing loss while trying to communicate with them. 3. Ensure the speakerâs face is well lit when speaking. 4. State the topic up front so that the person with a hearing loss has context. 5. Ensure that the speaker is on the same eye level as the person with the hearing loss. If the person is sitting down, then the speaker should also sit or bend down. It is more difficult to lip read when looking up at a person. 6. If possible, move the person with a hearing loss to an area away from distractions. 7. If the speaker has facial hair, such as a beard or mustache, try to find another person without facial hair to speak. Reading the lips of someone with facial hair is very difficult, if not impossible. If no one else is around, the speaker can use pen and paper to communicate. 8. The speaker should not chew gum or have anything in his or her mouth while speaking. âHelp Others Who Need Assistanceâ By adding this simple request to existing emergency warnings, airports can empower passengers to become a resource to others as well. This âcrowd-sourcedâ solution also can become a force multiplier during an emergency, as many people who are present in an airport but who do not work there will have skills and abilities that could greatly help others during an emergency.
14 Airport Emergency Communications for People with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs Human-to-human communication has the benefit of providing immediate feedback to the message originator so that he or she can be sure the message has been received and properly understood. Some limitations of human-to-human communication during an emergency are those of scope (the number of recipients), accuracy (whether the person has actual evidence to support the messaging), and control (ensuring that the message is transmitted to the intended recipient or recipients). Because most human-to-human communication is transmitted through speech, it is there- fore limited by the language abilities of the people sending and receiving the messages. It also is limited with regard to distance (that is, the distance from which a speaker can be heard and understood). As the number of people receiving and interpreting any given message increases, so do the chances that the message will be misunderstood or interpreted incorrectly.