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11 This chapter presents the results of the literature review and interviews with representatives of airports, airlines, and community organizations for people with disabilities. New or more detailed information on accessibility needs emerged through interviews with community orga- nizations, and they are reported in Section 4.1. Results from interviews with airports and airlines, along with findings from the literature review are reported in Sections 4.2 and 4.3. 4.1 Travelersâ Accessibility Although previous ACRP reports have documented the travel needs of people with dis- abilities and aging travelers, representatives from community organizations interviewed in this project provided additional information on the needs of passengers with cognitive and sensory disabilities during air travel. Overall, they advocate for equal access to services and information for these passengers because the ticket price is the same among all passengers. From their perspective as consumers, responsibilities of airports and airlines are not differen- tiated. Respondents emphasize the importance of information availability and communication access at every touch point during air travel. The specific needs and suggestions for air travel include: Full Access â¢ Having multiple information communication options in case one method is out of order. â¢ Having full access to and prompt communication (e.g., texts, audio announcements, displays on screens) of information including flight changes, delays, cancellations, gate changes, baggage claim carousel changes, in-flight emergencies, flight diversions, and special offers for passengers who give up seats for a later flight, and more. â¢ Providing prompt and clear communication if a passengerâs wheelchair cannot be located or is damaged. â¢ Informing passengers about accessibility services that are limited or not available, such as accessible parking, accessible taxis, valet parking, or paratransit. â¢ Improving discoverability of existing information and communication about services for people with disabilities. Visual Signs â¢ Providing signage for all touch points including pickup and parking, especially signs for relatively new services such as Uber or Lyft. â¢ Providing visual paging to include timely flight-related information in addition to helping people to find someone. C H A P T E R 4 Results
12 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility In Flight â¢ Ensuring clarity of in-flight audio system. â¢ Captioning in-flight announcements needing more than just a safety card. â¢ Making in-flight entertainment accessible. Websites â¢ Ensuring website accessibilityâscreen-reader accessible. â¢ Ensuring that a phone number for special service requests or reservations (e.g., bulk seat reservation) is readily available on a website. Staff Training â¢ Providing consistent and persistent staff training on disability sensitivity and knowledge about disability needs, so that it will not be hit or miss for passengers to receive the help needed. â¢ Understanding that extra time may be necessary for people with disabilities to load or unload at dropoff and pickup places, go through security, and board and deplane an aircraft. In addi- tion, some passengers may arrive early, and so, they spend more time than other passengers in air travel. â¢ Developing more consistent protocol for assisting passengers with disabilities, such as pre-boarding procedures. Regulations â¢ Providing stronger enforcement of existing accessibility rules. â¢ Requiring passengers to self-identify for accessibility services may not be effective or effi- cient because (1) a passenger has to self-identify at every touch point to different people during the travel journey, and (2) people who have aged into hearing or vision loss may not recognize that they have a disability. Consequently, they will not know to self-identify. The best practice would be to make all audible information routinely accessible visually, and vice versa. The community organizations interviewed recognize that some people with disabilities may not be aware of their rights when traveling by air. For example, families with members who are autistic may feel embarrassed at the airport or in flight, and they may not know about their rights or what services are available for them. Thus, these organizations are educating their members and offering tips for air travel while assisting airlines and airports to improve access and train their staffs on how to provide service to people with accessibility needs. 4.2 Airport Services, Information, and Communication This section synthesizes the findings from both the literature review and interviews with airport and airline representatives. Section 4.2.1 explains the current trends in airportsâ strate- gies to optimize customer experience, while Section 4.2.2 describes services, information, and communication tools currently available at airports, and Section 4.3 describes communication tools and services that airports adopt to enhance communication with passengers outside the airport setting. In these sections, innovative services, programs, information, and communica- tion practices are highlighted as case examples. Almost all case examples featured in this report are from the airports and airlines who participated in this project. Note that the services, programs, and communication tools included in this section are often available at multiple airports, including those that did not participate
Results 13 in this project. If multiple airports and airlines interviewed in the study reported the same or similar services, programs, and tools, only one is featured based on (1) ease of access to information on the program, service, or tool, and (2) the number of times each airport or airline is featured because the intent is to feature a diverse group of airports and airlines. Table 2 summarizes all the services, programs, and communication tools identified in the project. They are organized and categorized based on their functions that are relevant to com- munication with passengers with cognitive and sensory disabilities, aging passengers, and passengers with limited English proficiency. The table shows how results are organized and presented in this section. Service/Tool Function Especially Helpful for Featured Airport Strategic Trends Programs and services reflecting airport strategies to improve the travel experiences of travelers with disabilities, aging travelers, and travelers with limited English proficiency Commitment to Seamless Customer Experiences (22.214.171.124) â¦ Offer strategic directions for universal access focusing on inclusive services for all. â¢ PWD â¢ AGE â¢ LEP MSP Developing a Sense of Place at Airports (126.96.36.199) Video Walls â¦ Promote a sense of place by offering local arts, culture, and cuisine unique to the larger community where the airport resides. â¦ Engage and entertain customers; have calming effect. â¢ ANX, WAIT â¢ DEAF, HI MCO Performing Arts Series â¦ Promote a sense of place by offering music from local bands and artists. â¦ Engage and entertain customers. â¢ ANX , WAIT â¢ BLIND, PVI PIT Improving Efficiency and Personalized Service Through Technology (188.8.131.52) Biometric passenger processing (184.108.40.206.1) â¦ Reduce wait time and streamline passenger processing through fingerprint and facial recognition technologies. â¢ ANX, WAIT â¢ AGE â¢ LEP MCO ATL Robotic assistance (220.127.116.11.2) â¦ Provide information and assistance in wayfinding to optimize efficiency and improve customer experience. â¢ BLIND, PVI â¢ AGE SEA Visual Information and Communication Tools for communication using the sense of sight Static signage (18.104.22.168.1) â¦ Use universal and newly developed symbols along with braille on fixed structures for wayfinding. â¢ DEAF, PHI â¢ LEP PDX Digital signage (22.214.171.124.2) â¦ Use brighter than static signs to enhance visibility of airport and airline information. â¦ Flexible for content and language changes. â¦ Use black background with neutral-colored fonts to accommodate people who are color- blind. â¢ DEAF, PHI â¢ LEP â¢ PVI ATL Table 2. Summary of airport services, information, and communication tools. (continued on next page)
14 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Service/Tool Function Especially Featured Smart color-coded LED lights (126.96.36.199.6) â¦ Inform customers of activities by their corresponding colors of lights in gate areas. â¢ DEAF, PHI ROC ATL Brochures (188.8.131.52.7) â¦ Flexible for communication and dissemination at or outside airports. â¦ Reach passengers who prefer traditional print information. â¢ AGE â¢ DEAF, PHI PHL Auditory Tools Tools that aid to optimize the sense of hearing Public TDD/TTY phone (184.108.40.206.1) â¦ Offer text-based telecommunication for customers. â¢ DEAF, PHI MSY Hearing loop system or devices (220.127.116.11.2) â¦ Reduce background noise for people using hearing aids or cochlear implants. â¦ Use portable hearing loop devices to minimize costs for airports. â¢ AGE â¢ DEAF, PHI GRR SEA Video relay services and video phones (18.104.22.168.3) â¦ Allow passengers to communicate with trained agent who will translate usersâ needs to the airport staff in real time. â¦ Allow passengers to communicate with family and friends who use ASL. â¢ DEAF, PHI â¢ LEP PHX FWA ASL interpretation app (22.214.171.124.4) â¦ Translate ASL into voice or text through app. â¢ DEAF, PHI ROC Audio Information and Communication Tools for communication using the sense of hearing Public address (PA) system (126.96.36.199.1) â¦ Broadcast announcements in gate areas by airlines and in public and terminal areas by airports. â¢ BLIND, PVI SFO Interactive directory (188.8.131.52.3) â¦ Allow passengers to search for airport facilities and services and flight information on a digital screen. â¢ DEAF, PHI ATL Visual paging (184.108.40.206.4) â¦ Display customer paging information on digital screens. â¢ DEAF, PHI â¢ AGE MSP Real-time information displays (220.127.116.11.5) â¦ Display real-time information about flights, wait time at TSA and shuttle service, and availability of parking and bathrooms for passengers to better manage wait and use time at different touch points. â¦ Free gate agents from answering questions so they can offer more personalized service. â¢ DEAF, PHI â¢ ANX, WAIT TPA MCO ROC Helpful for Airport Table 2. (Continued).
Results 15 Social Storiesâ¢ and mobile apps (18.104.22.168.2) â¦ Develop social stories (in print, on website, or mobile app) that help people learn about what it is like to go through an airport and get on a flight. â¢ PCI LAS MSP PDX Therapy animal programs (22.214.171.124.3) â¦ Volunteer therapy animal owners bring their pets to airports to interact with travelers who are anxious about flying. â¢ ANX â¢ PCI BUF Verbal Communication Communication with sighted staff or professional agent who hears and speaks, or hears and signs American Sign Language Aira services (126.96.36.199.1) â¦ Live service for instant access to visual information offered by highly trained, remotely located agents. â¢ BLIND, PVI MEM and 20+ U.S. airports Customer service agents and airport ambassadors (188.8.131.52.2) â¦ Equipped with a tablet, staff rove around the airport to offer personalized service. â¦ Tipped skycap or free wheelchair services provided by airlines for personalized services. â¢ AGE â¢ PWD PDX TSA Cares (184.108.40.206.3) â¦ Provide information about TSA and offer tips for security check. â¢ PWD â¢ AGE TSA Hotline ADA/Title VI officers (220.127.116.11.4) â¦ Answer questions and address concerns related to ADA and Title VI. â¢ PWD â¢ AGE Most airports â¦ Airport tours for prospective passengers to mock the air travel process, offered by airports in collaboration with airlines, TSA, concessionaires, and community organizations. â¢ PCI â¢ ANX MSP SEA PIT Wings for AutismÂ® Guide for First-Time Travelers Individual/group tours (18.104.22.168.1) Service/Tool Function Especially Helpful for Featured Airport Visual and Audio Information and Communication Tools for communication using senses of sight and hearing Self-service kiosk (22.214.171.124.1) â¦ Self-service for flight check-ins offered by airlines. â¦ Self-service for passport processing offered by Customs and Border Protection. â¢ DEAF, PHI â¢ LEP â¢ BLIND, PVI LAX LAS Emergency alert and response systems (126.96.36.199.2) â¦ Well-trained staff to stop life-threatening bleeding, â¦ Wireless emergency alerts to any cell phone on airport grounds, to receive both text and audible alerts. â¢ DEAF, PHI â¢ BLIND, PVI â¢ LEP MSP IAH HOU SFO Airline and airport apps and indoor navigation (188.8.131.52.3) â¦ Offer information on flights, airport maps and directions, airport amenities and services. â¢ DEAF, PHI â¢ BLIND, PVI MCO Cognitive Communication Programs and tools that optimize passengersâ cognitive abilities Table 2. (Continued). (continued on next page)
16 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Service/Tool Function Especially Helpful for Featured Airport Disability Sensitivity Training (4.3.4) â¦ Train airport, airline, and concession staff and volunteers on how to serve customers with disabilities, aging adults, and those with LEP. â¢ PWD â¢ AGE â¢ LEP SFO ATL NOTE: AGE = aging adults; ANX = passengers who are anxious about air travel; ASL = American Sign Language; BLIND = people who are blind; DEAF = people who are deaf; LEP = people with limited English proficiency; PCI = people with cognitive impairment; PHI = people with hearing impairment; PVI = people with vision impairment; PWD = people with disabilities; WAIT = passengers who are bored or who have a hard time waiting in line. Multilingual staff (184.108.40.206.5) â¦Airports build a list of multilingual staffs who can help with language translation. â¦Airlines have multilingual staff on their international flights. â¦Airlines try to schedule multilingual staff at airports that regularly serve travelers with LEP. â¢ LEP Mainly airlines Language line services (220.127.116.11.6) â¦ Service subscribed by airports that provides real-time translation in dozens of languages for customers for free. â¢ LEP Most airports Off-Site Communication and Internal Training How airports communicate with passengers outside of the airports and how they train staff on serving passengers with disabilities Websites (4.3.1) â¦ Provide pre-trip information on flights and airline services and procedures, airport facilities, services, amenities, and programs. â¦ Provide pre-trip information in accessible website format, and in different languages. â¢ PWD â¢ AGE â¢ LEP ATL MCO BOS IAH PIT Social Media, Public Relations, and Advertising (4.3.2) â¦ Communicate to customers in multiple channels about services, programs, and amenities available at airports. â¢ PWD â¢ AGE HOU Outreach (4.3.3) â¦ Inform local communities and organizations about available accessibility services. â¦Offer air travel tips to people with disabilities. â¦ Seek advice for customer service improvement. â¢ PWD â¢ AGE MSP SFO Table 2. (Continued). 4.2.1 Key Trends in Airportsâ Efforts to Maximize Passenger Access and Mobility Airportsâ current efforts to improve customer experience follow three key trends, described below. 18.104.22.168 Commitment to Seamless Customer Experiences A passengerâs air travel journey consists of a series of stages. Barriers or service failure at any stage of the journey can create anxiety and stress, and present the possibility of rupturing the progress of the journey. The ultimate goal of many airports is to offer a seamless experience for all customers. Under this management orientation, the airports interviewed reported going above and beyond to provide inclusive services for all.
Results 17 Case Example 1 MinneapolisâSaint Paul Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) owns and operates seven airports in the MinneapolisâSt. Paul area, including MinneapolisâSaint Paul International Airport (MSP), one of the largest airports in North America. MAC clearly states in its strategic plan for 2017â2022 that âDeliver a seamless âONE JOURNEY EXPERIENCEâ for MSP passengersâ is one of the three focus areas that will help to achieve their goals for excellence (Figure 5). At MSP, management is committed to providing equitable access to all passengers. To ensure a seamless âone journeyâ experience for people with disabilities, MSP strives for universal access far beyond legal requirements. MSP aspires to be the most accessible airport in North America. Figure 5. Strategic plan goals of MinneapolisâSaint Paul Metropolitan Airports Commission (Source: Screenshot of Minneapolis Saint Paul Metropolitan Airports Commission website, https://www.metroairports.org/documents/Strategic-Plan.aspx, accessed on February 15, 2019).
18 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility 22.214.171.124 Developing a Sense of Place at Airports Todayâs airports are transforming passenger experiences by creating a sense of place for passengers (Wattanacharoensil et al. 2016). Airports want to showcase local arts so passen- gers can get a sense of the community where the airport resides. The intent is for airports to connect with passengers emotionally. As Jim Robinson points out, the current best practices in customer experience management instruct airports and airlines to deepen their understanding of customersâ emotional needs during air travel because âthe customerâs emotional journey is inexorably linked with the physical or process journey. The two cannot be separatedâ (Robinson 2017, p. 362). Therefore, todayâs innovative airport no longer provides just a hub for air trans- portation; it engages and entertains customers, which, in turn, can alleviate the anxiety some passengers may experience before flying. 126.96.36.199 Improving Efficiency and Personalized Service Through Technology Cutting-edge technology is at the forefront of transforming passengersâ experiences in the sky and on the ground. Recognizing the projected large growth in air travel demand and concomitant strain on existing facilities, airports, airlines, and TSA all have an incentive to invest in innovative solutions. They also realize that simply increasing the size of airports may not be the best or most feasible approach to address the coming challenges. Aviation and airports are eyeing technological innovations that will help make the travel process simpler, faster, and more personalized (Inmarsat Aviation 2019). Innovations currently being implemented or tested include biometric and robotic technology-based programs. 188.8.131.52.1 Biometric passenger processing. Fingerprint and facial recognition technologies are helping reduce wait times and streamline the travel process. More and more airports are testing and implementing biometric technology (i.e., facial recognition and fingerprint scans), primarily for international flights. Passengers holding passports are checked in or cleared at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) by a program that matches the passport photos and the pictures taken by the camera on site. Like other digital tools, it is flexible, and a single installation can be used by multiple airlines or agencies. Biometric processing at entry and exit for international flights significantly reduces the wait time for boarding and CBP. This technology reduces physical fatigue for travelers, especially people who have difficulty sitting or standing in line for a long time. Fingerprint and facial recognition can also eliminate the need for people with speech difficulties or language barriers to have to communicate verbally. It is an excellent example of the principle that the airports of the future can prepare for increased traffic flow by improving the overall efficiency of their operations. 184.108.40.206.2 Robotic assistance. Customer-facing robots are already a reality at airports. They can provide information and assistance in wayfinding in ways that optimize efficiency and improve customer experience. A new technology trend being tested and used at airports to improve customer experience is robotics powered by artificial intelligence technology. Customer-facing robotics can not only provide automated services but also have the potential to offer individualized information for passengers. Such technology will automate simple tasks and thus save human agents time to deal with more complex issues.
Results 19 Case Example 2 At Orlando International Airport (MCO), super-narrow bezel video walls behind check-in counters create a visual canvas (Figure 6). The content can be changed based on which airline is at the counter. When the screens are not in use by airlines, the airport controls the displays, filling them with content such as scenery from surrounding communities, weather information, or games for kids. Orlando is one of the most visited family vacation destinations in the world and MCO tries to extend their experiences in theme parks and resorts to the airport. These âvideo walls engage and entertain customers, offer the airlines brand promotion opportunities, and provide calming images that help MCO to achieve its goal of being an extension of the tourist destination.â Figure 6. Video walls behind check-in counters at Orlando International Airport.
20 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Case Example 3 To engage customers, some airports have started to introduce music and arts in the terminals. Pittsburgh International Airportâs (PITâs) Art in the Airport program not only exhibits two-dimensional and three-dimensional artworks by renowned artists, it is also inclusive of the Performing Arts Series, which features local musicians of all genres, including school choirs (Figure 7). âThe program is part of the airportâs commitment to creating a sense of place, connecting to the regions it serves through offerings unique to Pittsburgh including: art, culture, cuisine, individuals and institutionsâ (Pittsburgh International Airport 2019). Figure 7. Pittsburgh International Airport performing arts series (Source: Screenshot of Pittsburgh International Airport website, http://www.flypittsburgh.com/programs-services/ programs/performing-arts-series, accessed on February 15, 2019). 4.2.2 Services, Information, and Communication Tools at Airports Many airport services, information, and communication tools are designed to reach all passen- gers but may be especially useful to passengers with accessibility needs, or can be modified to be more accessible to passengers with accessibility needs. The communication tools and services in this section are organized and presented in six groups, based on relevance to the sensory func- tions: (1) visual information and communication; (2) auditory tools, (3) audio information and communication, (4) visual and audio information and communication, (5) cognitive commu- nication, and (6) verbal communication. 220.127.116.11 Visual Information and Communication: Tools for Communication Using the Sense of Sight 18.104.22.168.1 Static signage. Airports rely heavily on signage as the basis of wayfinding, especially for passengers with sensory or cognitive disabilities. All airports interviewed reported
Results 21 Case Example 4 MCO is the first airport that fully deploys biometric matching for 100% of entries at CBP and exits at all of its international boarding gates (Figure 8). Mr. John Newson, Chief Information Officer at Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, explained that with this change the airport has increased its capacity for passenger processing, at a much lower cost than the cost of expanding physical facilities to reach the same goal. Figure 8. Biometric exit gate at Orlando International Airport (MCO) (Source: Courtesy of MCO). Case Example 5 Among airlines, Delta Airlines has been the first to offer passengers a complete biometric terminal experience. In September 2018, the airline launched the first biometric terminal at ATLâs International Terminal, in collaboration with CBP, TSA, and ATL (Delta News Hub 2018). Once the system is fully implemented, Deltaâs passengers on international flights at ATL will have the option of having a biometric experience from check-in to baggage drop to TSA checkpoint to boarding; and for arriving passengers the experience includes CBP as well. Delta has published a pictogram explanation about how the program works and its benefits to customers at https://news.delta.com/how-it-works-first- biometric-terminal-us.
22 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Case Example 6 Tracey is the robot (Figure 9) recently tested at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). Tracey helped passengers waiting at the security checkpoint to be prepared for the security check. The test has shown that Tracey has significantly improved the speed of the security check process. David Wilson, Director of Innovation at SEA, said that Tracey will probably be brought back again after new automated screen lanes are installed at security checkpoints. Mr. Wilson also commented that passengers enjoyed interacting with Tracey, suggesting Tracey may help to reduce anxiety during this stage of travel. Figure 9. Tracey the Robot at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) (Source: Screenshot of Port of Seattle website, https://www.portseattle.org/ blog/robots-are-coming-help-us, accessed on April 16, 2019). compliance with ADA requirements for signs, such as using universal symbols for wayfinding and braille on fixed structures. Although signs for certain services and amenities, such as pet relief areas, mediation rooms, and Uber and Lyft services, are not standardized and federally mandated (Baskas 2018b), some airports reported installing additional signs for services and amenities for people with disabilities throughout airports. 22.214.171.124.2 Digital signage. Digital signage at airports can not only enhances the visibility of airport services and amenities, but also allow flexibility for content changes. Airports have long been using digital displays for flight information. Many airports have creatively adopted or plan to adopt more dynamic signs in a variety of digital formats. 126.96.36.199.3 Interactive directory. Several airport representatives interviewed reported that their facility has interactive directories that help all passengers navigate the airport. The directory usually uses touch screen technology, and the user interface offers travelers an intuitive design.
Results 23 Case Example 7 Portland International Airport (PDX) has Pet Relief areas on both the airside and the landside. They incorporated the sign for the Animal Relief areas on the overhead directional signs throughout the airport (Figure 10). Figure 10. Pet Relief area (top) and signage (bottom) at Portland International Airport (PDX).
24 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Case Example 8 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) has installed over 800 dynamic, digital signs throughout the airport. Digital signs are usually brighter than static signs and should be better received by people with low vision. ATL also considers the needs of people who are color-blind by adopting wayfinding signs on black backgrounds with neutral colored fonts. The digital sign at the tram station in the international terminal (Figure 11) uses colors friendly to people with low vision or who are color-blind and has the ability to incorporate information in a second language, which can be changed to correspond with international flight schedules. Figure 11. Digital signage at Atlanta International Airport. Case Example 9 There are several interactive directories at ATL (Figure 12). These directories include an interactive map of the airport, allowing passengers to search for directions to airport facilities and amenities, as well as find information on the retail and food and beverage options at the airport. The digital directories at ATL also allow passengers to check real-time flight information. Figure 12. Digital directory at Atlanta International Airport.
Results 25 Figure 13. Visual paging message screen at MinneapolisâSaint Paul International Airport. 188.8.131.52.4 Visual paging. Visual paging is the most commonly reported method of provid- ing airport information to people who are hard of hearing or deaf. Paging information that is announced on the PA system is also announced on screens, usually colocated with flight information display screens (FIDS). Some visual paging messages may be displayed on the bottom of FIDS themselves. Figure 13 shows a visual paging message screen available at the information booths at MSP, showing a history of the dayâs visual paging messages. 184.108.40.206.5 Real-time information displays. Real-time information is essential for passengers during air travel because of possible flight changes and also because real-time information helps lower stress and anxiety for passengers. With the help of digital technology, more and more airports are presenting real-time information. Digital screens with real-time Case Example 10 Tampa International Airport (TPA) has installed a âflight-in-sightâ system that displays current flight information, such as the flight altitude, remaining distance, and expected time of arrival, to passengers waiting at the gate (Figure 14; Future Travel Experience 2013). This type of efficiency not only keeps waiting passengers in- formed but also has the additional benefit of freeing up gate agentsâ time so they can better attend to passengers who need personalized services. Figure 14. Flight-in-sight displays at Tampa International Airport (Source: Screenshot of Future Travel Experience website, https://www. futuretravelexperience.com/2013/07/tampa-airport- introduces-real-time-flight-information-for- passengers, accessed on December 13, 2018).
26 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Case Example 12 Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC) installed 21 live gate cameras to provide a live cam feed of the gates that passengers can access through their mobile phones. The purpose of this program is to inform passengers about activities in the gate area while they are away from the gate. This gives passengers peace of mind while they spend more time at other businesses in the airport. It not only reduces gate hugging but also increases nonaeronautical revenues. ROC also built a new smart phone lot for short-term arrival pickup vehicle staging. Family and friends waiting to meet an arriving flight may use the smart phone lot and remain in their vehicle with access to real-time flight information from a large digital flight information display screen (Figure 16) to monitor arrival information. Figure 16. Smart phone lot of Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC) (Source: Courtesy of ROC). Case Example 11 Going through a security checkpoint arguably can be the most anxious process for many passengers, especially when the wait is long. To alleviate the anxiety, MCO provides estimated wait time at the TSA checkpoint (Figure 15). Figure 15. Real-time Information at TSA checkpoint at Orlando International Airport.
Results 27 wait time and facility availability are often installed at gates, TSA checkpoints, shuttle service points, parking, and bathrooms. 220.127.116.11.6 Smart color-coded LED lights. Smart color-coded lights are used in some air- ports to communicate with customers. Each color of lights conveys specific information about availability or status of a facility or service. 18.104.22.168.7 Brochures. Although new technology is playing a leading role in airportsâ efforts to optimally address passengersâ cognitive and sensory abilities, many airports are cognizant that aging passengers may not be technology savvy. Realizing that some passengers may still prefer printed information, some airports distribute brochures about their airportsâ services, programs, and amenities at the information booth and other main touch points throughout the airport. Brochures in print can also be easily distributed outside the airport setting. 22.214.171.124 Auditory Tools: Tools That Seek to Optimize the Sense of Hearing 126.96.36.199.1 Public TDD/TTY phone. All airports interviewed reported having text-based telecommunication devices such as TDD/TTY (TeleType) phones installed in the terminals. These phones allow people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or with speech impairments to make Case Example 13 Color-coded LED lighting paired with the flight information data has been installed at ROC to help passengers prioritize their attention (Figure 17). Because the program is new, the color codes are displayed on a screen in the gate area, explaining each activity (e.g., active, inactive, boarding, announcements, emergency) with its corresponding color. Passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing can visually obtain important information by discerning the different color of lights at the gate. Figure 17. Smart lighting in terminal of Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC) (Source: Courtesy of ROC).
28 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Case Example 14 The smart restroom system at ATL uses colored lights to indicate if the stalls are in use or vacant (Figure 18, left). The system also shows the locations of other restrooms close by (Figure 18, right), and provides real-time data to staff about whether the restrooms need to be cleaned (Darnell 2018). Figure 18. Smart restroom system at Atlanta International Airport (ATL). Left, system indicates if the stalls are in use. Right, system indicates other restrooms close by.
Results 29 Figure 20. TDD phone at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY). Case Example 15 Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) has several brochures that are downloadable from its website, enabling easy information dissemination outside of the airport. The brochures cover topics from general passenger information to the arts and exhibition program schedules and locations. One of the brochures is designed to provide information specific for people with disabilities (Figure 19). Figure 19. Brochure on getting around PHL (Source: Screenshot of Philadelphia International Airport website, https://www.phl.org/Documents/ Passengerinfo/Accessibility/ADAGetting Around.pdf, accessed on February 15, 2019). phone calls by typing the messages. Figure 20 shows the TDD phone at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY). However, most airport representatives interviewed said that because of the advent of smart phones, passengers have a great many assistive apps that better meet their individual needs, and the TDD/TTY phones at their airports are rarely used. Some mentioned that as a result of nonuse, these phones are not well maintained or have been vandalized.
30 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Case Example 16 SEA recently debuted a creative solution when it installed portable hearing loop devices in the gate and information booth areas. Portable hearing loops are ideal for person-to-person communication in a close vicinity. Each unit is relatively inexpensive. Figure 21 illustrates how portable hearing loop devices work. Figure 21. Portable hearing loop system and how it works (Source: Screenshots of Hearing Loop website, https://www.hearingloop.co.uk/store/proddetail.php?prod=PL1%2FK1+Portable+Induction+ Loop+Kit+%26+Shelf, accessed on February 15, 2019). 188.8.131.52.2 Hearing loop system or devices. Passengers who are using hearing aids should find hearing loops helpful for reducing background noise and offering clearer audio infor- mation. The technology works with both t-coilâequipped hearing aids and cochlear implants, and can be installed in terminals or around counters. Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) was the first to be fully looped throughout the terminal and grand concourse (Loop New Mexico, n.d.). Most other airports that currently have loop technology have it installed only in specific areas of the airport, such as the information booths and/or certain terminals and gates. Smaller airports may find full looping financially feasible, but the cost of looping a large airport can be a barrier to full implementation of this technology. To inform passengers of the availability of this service, the digital hearing loop sign is dis- played on the bottom of all FIDS at SEA (Figure 22). 184.108.40.206.3 Video relay services and video phones. There are several forms of video com- munication tools adopted by some of the airports: Video Relay Services (VRS), video phones,
Results 31 Figure 22. Hearing loop signs on flight information display screens at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Case Example 17 Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) uses video relay service tablets (Figure 23) to assist travelers who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-impaired (Roman 2018). The tablet also has Convo apps that passengers who have private subscriptions can log into. Figure 23. Video Relay Services Tablets at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (Source: Screenshot of Fox News-Phoenix website, http://www.fox10phoenix.com/news/arizona-news/ new-technology-at-sky-harbor-helps-those- with-hearing-loss-communicate, accessed on February 15, 2019). and American Sign Language (ASL) Interpretation App. VRS is an interpreting service that airports can subscribe to for ASL interpretation. This service allows a deaf, hard-of-hearing, or speech-impaired passenger who uses ASL to communicate with a hearing person through a professionally trained agent who both hears and signs. The passenger who needs to communi- cate with a hearing person can call the VRS provider using a video device designed for VRS. The agent of the VRS provider who picks up the call will communicate with the passenger over video and will then call the hearing person to relay the message, finally signing the response back to the passenger. 220.127.116.11.4 ASL interpretation app. For travelers who are deaf, ASL interpretation is often needed for communication with the airport. Mobile apps that translate ASL can aid travelers who are deaf to have prompt access to flight and airport information.
32 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Case Example 19 Recently, ROC has been testing and deploying an innovative tablet at all passenger ticketing counters, car rental counters, gate counters, and food concessions with software called MotionSavvy, developed by a former student at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology. The program recognizes American Sign Language and then translates the ASL into voice or text, making it easier for a deaf passenger to communicate with airport staff (Figure 25). Figure 25. American Sign Language translation app by MotionSavvy available at Greater Rochester International Airport (ROC) (Source: Courtesy of ROC). Case Example 18 Some airports also offer video phones that connect externally, not just to professional agents. Passengers at the Fort Wayne International Airport (FWA) can use the video phone to communicate with family and friends (Slater 2015) or call an interpreter who will mediate three-way commu- nication (Figure 24). The video phone allows passengers to use their own sign language. Figure 24. Garth Sponseller, DeafLink director at the League for the Blind & Disabled, uses a video phone at the Fort Wayne International Airport Welcome Center (Credit: Michelle Davies, The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, Indiana).
Results 33 Figure 26. AMTRAK Quik-Trak kiosks (Source: Screenshot of Assistra Technologies website, http://assistratech.com/images/ amtrak_800.jpg, accessed on February 15, 2019). 18.104.22.168 Audio Information and Communication: Tools for Communication Using the Sense of Hearing 22.214.171.124.1 Public address system. The most commonly reported tool used to communicate with passengers who are blind or with low vision is the public address (PA) system, which broad- casts announcements in public areas and gate areas. An overload of information and loud noise can be counterproductive, so many airports are strategic about their use of the PA. The goal is to avoid drowning out the most important messages for people who rely on audio information. To reduce noise pollution and avoid competing gate announcements and other messages, some airports, such as San Francisco International Airport (SFO), are working toward creating a silent airport environment where important information is only announced in relevant designated areas. 126.96.36.199 Visual and Audio Information and Communication: Tools for Communication Using Senses of Sight and Hearing 188.8.131.52.1 Self-service kiosk. To reduce wait time and increase ease of use, airports have turned to technology to provide more automated services. The basic design of self-service kiosks designated to be accessible should provide audio instructions or tactile buttons and braille labels. Self-service kiosks have long been successfully used in the retail-banking setting (Future Travel Experience 2008). In transportation, Amtrak offers Quik-Trak Kiosks (Figure 26), a ticketing machine that includes a 5-EZ AccessÂ® button set with tactile keypad (Figure 27).
34 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Case Example 20 In recent years, some airports have installed automated passport control (APC) kiosks. These kiosks expedite the customs entry process and thus reduce the wait time for passengers after a long international flight. The APCs installed at the Tom Bradley International Terminal of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) have the EZ AccessÂ® button (Figure 28). In addition, Future Travel Experience reports that the APC kiosks installed at LAX provide 13 different language options to accommodate passengers with limited English proficiency (Future Travel Experience 2014). Figure 28. Automated passport control kiosks at Los Angeles International Airport (Source: Screenshot of Future Travel Experience website, https://www. futuretravelexperience.com/2014/10/lax-installs- 40-apc-kiosks-tom-bradley-international-terminal, accessed on February 15, 2019). Figure 27. EZ Access tactile keypads (Source: Screenshot of Assistra Technologies website, http://assistratech.com/about_ezaccess.html, accessed on February 15, 2019).
Results 35 Case Example 21 Working with airlines, McCarran International Airport offers self-service check-in kiosks to passengers, and all of these kiosks are ADA compliant (Figure 29). Figure 29. ADA-compliant self-service check-in kiosks at McCarran International Airport (LAS) (Source: Screenshot of LAS website, https://www. mccarran.com/Travel/Technology#SelfCheckIn, accessed on April 16, 2019). Some airlines have their own self-service kiosks in airports. For example, United Airlines offers self-service kiosks for check-ins at airports (Figure 30). The automated kiosks can be accessed in 11 different languages. In addition, passengers who are visually impaired can listen to audio instructions once they plug their headphones into the headphone jack on the kiosks. United Airlines is also in the process of adding tactile buttons and speech output to some of their kiosks at airports. 184.108.40.206.2 Emergency alert systems and emergency response. To communicate with pas- sengers with disabilities about an emergency, airports have audible fire alarms and PA system announcements on site for passengers who are blind or have low-vision, along with strobes and visual paging displays for people who are deaf or hard of hearing (Figure 31). 220.127.116.11.3 Airline and airport apps and indoor navigation. Mobile apps are important tools for airlines to communicate with passengers. Key features of these apps include flight
36 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Figure 30. United Airlinesâ explanation of how their airport kiosks can be accessed by passengers with visual impairments and passengers with limited English proficiency (Source: Screenshot of United Airlines website, https://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/travel/airport/kiosks/default.aspx, accessed on February 15, 2019). Figure 31. Sound and visual alarm at Minneapolisâ Saint Paul International Airport.
Results 37 reservations, flight status, interactive terminal maps (e.g., American Airlineâs app [Figure 33] includes terminal maps for over 30 different airports in the United States) and an optional alert notification service that passengers can enable in order to receive alerts on flight updates, changes, and cancellations. Some airports also developed their own apps although some are better than others in providing accessibility information on their services, programs, and facilities. 18.104.22.168 Cognitive Communication: Programs and Tools That Optimize Passengersâ Cognitive Abilities 22.214.171.124.1 Familiarization tours. People with certain cognitive disabilities may feel overwhelmed at airports. For these passengers, a familiarization tour prior to the trip offers them the chance to learn about what it is like to go through an airport and can help them be prepared for their journey. A number of airports offer familiarization tours. Tours vary in structure; some take the visitors air- side while others do not. Even though a familiarization tour is offered, however, travelers with disabilities may not be aware of this option. Several airports inter- viewed indicated that they do not advertise these tours because they have limited staffing available to run them. The Arc has also extended the Wings program to include people with other cognitive disabilities. IAH has partnered with The Arc of Texas, United Airlines, and TSA to host a Wings for AllÂ® program that is designed for people with a variety of cognitive and intellectual disabilities and their families (Houston Airports 2018). In some airports, the familiarization tours and programs have been extended to help any passenger who may be unfamiliar with or feel anxious about air travel. Case Example 22 In Houston Airports (George Bush Intercontinen- tal Airport [IAH] and William P. Hobby Airport [HOU]), the emergency alert systems also include the âStop the BleedâSave a Lifeâ kit as a method for emergency response (Figure 32). Emergency response staff are trained to stop life-threatening bleeding due to traumatic injuries. Figure 33. Screenshot of American Airlinesâ app showing directions to businesses at terminals. Figure 32. âStop the BleedâSave a Lifeâ kit is provided at Houston Airports as a method for emergency response (Source: Ciaccio 2018).
38 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Case Example 24 Delta Airlinesâ mobile app not only offers the features for booking, flight status check, bag tracking, airport maps, and a parking reminder, it also shows detailed information on its fleet (Figure 34). The fleet information contains aircraft specifications and seat specifications such as seat width and seat pitch in inches/centimeters, and a layout view of each aircraft. Figure 34. Screenshot of Delta Airlinesâ app showing aircraft specifications. Case Example 23 Earlier in 2018, SFO became the first airport that received permission from the Federal Emergency Management System (FEMA) to issue wireless emergency alerts to any cell phone on airport grounds (Baskas 2018a). Passengers with sensory disabilities can receive both text and audible alerts on cell phones when the phoneâs Emergency Alerts setting is turned on.
Results 39 Case Example 25 The MCO mobile app is designed with people with disabilities in mind. Available in the Apple App Store and Android Store, MCO uses beacon technology to provide turn-by-turn indoor navigation (Figure 35). The navigator program offers distance in feet, visual and audio directions, and wheelchair-accessible routes where available, making it valuable for passengers with different disabilities. Figure 35. Screenshot of Orlando International Airportâs app showing turn-by-turn directions in the terminal. Case Example 26 MSP has its program called Navigating MSP Airport, offered on a monthly basis. This program offers families with children who are uncomfortable about air travel the chance to ârehearseâ the air travel experience from ticketing to boarding. The information sheet listed in Appendix C describes the details of how the program works.
40 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Case Example 27 Many airports work collaboratively with airlines and TSA to host Wings for AutismÂ®, a program initiated by The Arc, an organization that supports people with cognitive disabilities. Wings for Autism is an airport familiarization program specifically designed for people with ASD, for whom airports are frequently highly stressful environments. The events are also great opportunities for aviation professionals to learn about the needs of passengers with ASD and how to interact with these passengers. Many airports offer these programs at least once a year. Airports hosting these events all reported positive feedback from families who participated in the events. SEA recently advertised open registration for two programs and both were filled within 2 hours of being announced. Case Example 28 PIT offers a custom-designed course for first-time flyers (Figure 36). The course is offered each year on site at the airport. It explains the process of air travel through PIT from booking to boarding. The program also offers a detailed instruction guide for potential air travelers. The guide is available at http://www.flypittsburgh.com/getattachment/ Programs-Services/Programs/First-Time-Flyers/GUIDE-FTF.pdf. aspx?lang=en-US. Figure 36. First Time Flyer Guide by Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) (Source: Screenshot of PIT website, accessed on February 15, 2019).
Results 41 Case Example 29 Delta Airlines has partnered with the Shepherd Center in Atlanta for over 20 years to help educate and prepare people for air travel post-injury through monthly tours offered at ATL. These tours accommodate up to seven individuals with a new spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, or neurological diagnosis, along with their caregivers. The group goes through security and then to a gate, where they are met by the Delta personnel who actually transfer each client into an aisle chair and onto an airplane (Figure 37). The Delta staff talk with clients on the plane, providing tips and tricks for making their travel experience easier and less stressful. (a) (b) Figure 37. Rehearsals for people (a) waiting to board a Delta Airlines aircraft using a wheelchair and (b) boarding a Delta Airlines aircraft in a wheelchair (Source: Courtesy of the Shepherd Center).
42 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility 126.96.36.199.2 Social Storiesâ¢ and mobile apps. Some airports have developed Social Stories or mobile apps based on Social Stories to help people with cognitive disabilities or children with ASD to get to know what it is like to go through an airport and get on a flight. According to the National Autistic Society, Social Stories are âshort descriptions of a particular situation, event or activity, which include specific information about what to expect in that situation and whyâ (National Autistic Society 2018). These stories can help people with ASD to better understand a social situation and feel safer in the situation. Case Example 30 McCarran International Airport (LAS) recently launched its own MagnusCardsÂ®, a mobile app developed by Magnus Mode that aims to help people with autism and other cognitive special needs navigate through LAS. The app features multiple âcard decks,â each built around a character named Magnus. Each deck is specific to a given activity, with one being air travel (Figure 38). As explained by the creator of MagnusCards, airports can be âa loud, scary and overwhelming placeâ for people with autism or other cognitive special needs. Using pictograms and voiceovers, the cards in the air travel deck explain the various processes of navigating through an airport, to help people âfocus and manage activities with decreased stress and greater independenceâ (Magnus Mode 2018) during air travel. Figure 38. Screenshot of the MagnusCards app of McCarran International Airport.
Results 43 Case Example 31 Working with Infiniteach, MSP has launched its own app called Navigate MSP, which was designed for families with children with ASD or other cognitive disabilities. The app uses videos to help children to visualize the experience of air travel (Figure 39), and tell them about sights, sounds and smells they are likely to encounter in the airport. Navigate MSP also includes pictogram cards that children can use to communicate with their family members. Figure 40 shows examples of these communication signs and reminder signs that children and parents can point to for communicating with each other and airport/ airline staff. Figure 40. Screenshots of Navigate MSP of MinneapolisâSaint Paul International Airport pictogram cards. Figure 39. Screenshot of Navigate MSP of MinneapolisâSaint Paul International Airport.
44 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Case Example 32 Portland International Airport (PDX) developed âLetâs Fly,âa storybook that teaches potential travelers about how the airport works (Figure 41). The photo guidebook is available on PDXâs website at https://popcdn.azureedge.net/pdfs/ PDX_Special_Needs.pdf. Figure 41. Letâs Fly! Photo Guidebook (Source: Screenshot of Port of Portland website, https: // popcdn.azureedge.net/pdfs/PDX_Special_Needs.pdf, accessed on December 13, 2018).
Results 45 188.8.131.52.3 Therapy animal programs. Some U.S. airports have therapy animals that can help ease passengersâ anxieties or fear of flying. For example, carefully screened therapy dogs frequent Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) through the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) serving Erie County, New Yorkâs, Paws for Love program (Figure 42). The therapy dog can help travelers with ASD feel at ease in a noisy and crowded airport. 184.108.40.206 Verbal Communication: Communication with Sighted Staff or Professional Agent Who Hears and Speaks, or Hears and Signs American Sign Language 220.127.116.11.1 Aira services. Some airport representatives recognized that it can be challenging for people who are blind to be independent travelers at airports. Even once signage with Braille has been installed on fixed structures such as bathrooms or elevators, passengers still need to be able to find those locations. Moreover, not all people who are blind read Braille. Aira allows passengers who are blind or have low vision to use smart glasses or a mobile phone app to connect with a sighted professional agent, who shares the passengerâs view of the surrounding area and provides real-time navigation instructions and directions. The agent can help the passenger accomplish a variety of tasks at the airport. Airports subscribe to Aira services and pay a flat fee for a set number of minutes of service use, allowing passengers to use the service for free. Currently, at least 20 airports in the United States have subscribed to the Aira service (Stilson 2018). Of the airports interviewed for this study, those using AIRA had less than 2 years of usage data so far. Memphis International Airport (MEM), one of the earliest sub- scribers, started to offer customers free access to Aira in October 2017 (Figure 43; Memphis International Airport 2017). There is still a need for more data to fully assess the effectiveness of the service. In general, airports interviewed reported moderate usage of the service, and so cost does not seem to be a barrier to implementation. ATLâs data have revealed more short-period use than ongoing use over long periods of time. This usage pattern indicates that travelers are likely stopping at various places in the airport rather than proceeding directly to the gate. MSPâs philosophy is that it is the right Figure 42. Paws for Love, a volunteer- run program where therapy animal owners bring their pets to public facilities (Source: Courtesy of SPCA, Erie County, New York).
46 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Figure 43. Screenshot of how Aira works at Memphis International Airport (Source: Screenshot of Memphis International Airport website, http://www.flymemphis.com/aira, accessed on April 16, 2019). thing to do because it gives travelers who are blind or have low vision more independence while traveling. They think that this technology will likely encourage more passengers who are blind to travel by air. Figure 44 lists the frequently asked questions about Aira, presented by Greg Stilson, Director of Product of Aira, at the 2018 Universal Access in Airports conference. 18.104.22.168.2 Customer service agents and airport ambassadors. Airlines and airports inter- viewed emphasized the importance of customer service and their reliance on well-trained employees and/or volunteers to assist passengers, especially passengers with cognitive dis- abilities, aging passengers, and passengers with limited English proficiency at airports. One of the benefits of pursuing innovation is that by more efficiently automating some parts of the travel process and providing personalized assistance to passengers, an airport or airline can free up time for its human agents to focus on higher-level problems.
Results 47 Although it is crucial to understand the needs of customers with disabilities, it is also important not to jump to conclusions, and making this distinction is an important aspect of sensitivity training. A common theme among the interviewees about services provided for people with disabilities is that employees are trained to identify people who look like they are having trouble wayfinding or are lost. The employees are usually trained not to assume anything about passengers, but to ask if a passenger needs any help. Many airports have customer service employees and/or volunteers (e.g., airport ambassadors) stationed throughout the facility to offer help. Usually, customer service personnel are stationed at main touch points such as information booths and security checkpoints. Some airports have roving agents equipped with tablets moving around the airports to help passengers find needed information online. The tablets can also be used as a writing tool to communicate with passengers who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech impaired. SkyCap is a service that employs tipped porters who are usually located at the curbside and/or the baggage claim areas to assist with luggage and assistive mobility devices. They can also offer help to individuals with wayfinding (Figure 45). Figure 44. The Aira Airport Network frequently asked questions (Source: Screenshot of Open Doors Organization website, https:// opendoorsnfp.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/Greg-Stilson-Aira.pdf, accessed on February 15, 2019). Case Example 33 PDX is preparing to undergo major construction, and in order to continue offering excellent customer service throughout this period, it has chosen to outsource its customer service management with the assistance of a tablet program developed specifically for customer service at PDX. The tablet program is designed for customer service agents to have all airport information at their fingertips. During the construction project, customer service agents with the tablet will rove around the airport, especially at main touch points, to help any passenger who needs individualized service.
48 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Several airport representatives commented that it may not be well known, but wheelchair providers at many airports can also escort people who may not need a wheelchair but may need other assistance going through security and to the gate. Family members of passengers who need mobility, sensory, or cognitive assistance can also ask the airline to issue a temporary pass to accompany the passenger to gate. Air carriers are required to have one or more designated complaint resolution official (CRO) available at airports or by phone to address âdisability-related issues that have escalated beyond an initial interaction with airline personnelâ (U.S. Department of Transportation, n.d.). 22.214.171.124.3 TSA Cares. According to the Transportation Security Administration, âTSA Cares is a helpline that provides travelers with disabilities, medical conditions and other special circumstances additional assistance during the security screening processâ (Transportation Security Administration, n.d.). Passengers with accessibility needs who would like to find information related to the security check can call TSA Cares at 1-855-787-2227, or 711 for Tele- communications Relay Services. TSA suggests that passengers call the helpline at least 72 hours before their flights. 126.96.36.199.4 Americans with Disabilities Act and Title VI officers. Airports with 50 or more employees are required by law to have an ADA/Title VI officer. Any passenger can contact the ADA officer; typically, a phone number and e-mail address are published on the airportâs website, although sometimes such information is not obvious. In addition, many airportsâ websites offer procedures for customers who would like to file complaints specific to ADA and Title VI compliance. For example, ATL has developed its own ADA Grievance Form and Title VI Dis- crimination Complaint Form. Passengers can find the form on ATLâs website at https://www.atl. com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/ADA-Grievance-Form_SBedited_REV4.pdf. 188.8.131.52.5 Multilingual staff. Airlines staff international flights with multilingual employees in order to better serve passengers with limited English proficiency. Some airports also make an effort to hire multilingual employees or recruit multilingual volunteers, particularly if they handle a lot of international flights or if the local population includes significant numbers of people with limited English proficiency. Some airports keep a list of their multilingual employees and volunteers, and the list is shared with information booth staff, other customer Figure 45. Assistance available for wayfinding at MinneapolisâSaint Paul International Airport.
Results 49 service staff, or concessionaires. When needed, the multilingual staff will be contacted for immediate help. 184.108.40.206.6 Language line services. Even if an airport has multilingual staff, given the dynamic nature of airport operations, having those staff in the right place at the right time can be challenging. Almost all airports interviewed complement their in-person interpretive services with a subscription to Language Line, a company that provides live translation of dozens of languages. Passengers who need language help usually need to go to the information booth, where they can pick out the language they need from a card that lists all the available languages with Language Line. Then the staff can call the number to ask for an interpreter. Some airports also offer video ALS interpretation through Language Line. 4.3 Airportsâ Offsite Communication to Customers and Internal Training of Employees In addition to optimizing information access inside the airport, airports and airlines share a goal of communicating effectively with customers and potential customers before they arrive at the facility. Airports and airlines recognize the essential role of information for travel planning; thus, they have adopted several means to provide information for customers, including customers with disabilities. Ultimately, customers need to research and find out about services and programs available at airports, and it is most helpful for both customers and airports and airlines if customers have full access to information before they get to the airports. 4.3.1 Websites Airlines and airports rely mainly on their websites to communicate accessibility informa- tion to people with disabilities, aging travelers, and passengers with limited English proficiency. Airline websites in particular are crucial for passengersâ trip planning, especially for people who need to request assistance for air travel. A review of selected airportsâ websites indicates that most airports provide fairly detailed accessibility-related information. Alaska Airlinesâ website also has informational videos for passengers with disabilities to ensure that passengers are informed about how to have a smooth air travel experience. For example, the video on âTravel with Power Chairâ features a passenger in a power chair offering tips for a seamless travel experience. Most airport representatives interviewed indicated that information on their websites is accessible while some indicated that they are working toward making information on their sites more accessible. Many airport websites offer maps, static or interactive. Several airports and airlines use the indoor location platform developed by Locus Labs for their interactive maps online. These maps not only provide indoor directions, but also estimated wait times. 4.3.2 Social Media, Public Relations, and Advertising Although airports interviewed reported that their websites are their best outlet to inform travelers about resources available, many airports also have an active presence on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. When airports launch new accessible ser- vices, they feature these services on social media outlets, as well as putting out news releases and newsletters. Airports have on occasion launched ad campaigns to promote their new accessible services as, for example, Houston Airports did when they adopted the Aira program. The pro- gram later received significant publicity in the major print media such as The New York Times and USA Today.
50 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Case Example 34 Alaska Airlinesâ website provides clear and detailed accessibility information organized by type of accessibility need: developmental and intellectual disabilities, hearing, mobility, vision, etc. (Figure 46). It lists the options for getting from the boarding area onto the aircraft of all airports they serve. Figure 46. Accessibility section of the Alaska Airlines website (Source: Screenshot of https://www. alaskaair.com/content/travel-info/accessible-services/airport-accessibility, accessed on February 15, 2019).
Results 51 Case Example 35 Several airports emphasized their effort to ensure that accessibility information is only one click away from the homepage. For example, the wheelchair symbol on the homepage of ATL links directly to the accessibility page (Figure 47). In addition, the accessibility page is speech enabled by ReadSpeaker to provide verbal information for people who have vision disability. Figure 47. Accessibility section of the Atlanta International Airport website (Source: Screenshot of https://www.atl.com/ADA, accessed on February 15, 2019).
52 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Case Example 36 MCOâs accessibility information is also one click away from the homepage. The accessibility webpage provides a map and uses pictograms to indicate services available (Figure 48). Once an icon is clicked, a brief, easy-to-understand description for that service is displayed. Streamlined presentation of information can help avoid the overwhelming feeling experienced by people with cognitive disabilities during planning. Figure 48. Accessibility section of the Orlando International Airport website (Source: Screenshot of https://orlandoairports.net/getting-around-mco/accessibility, accessed on February 15, 2019).
Results 53 Case Example 37 Boston Logan International Airportâs (BOSâs) accessibility page on the website includes distances in feet from curb to ticket counter in all terminals (Figure 49). It also provides clearance for all parking garages and their distances to closest terminal. Figure 49. Accessibility section of the Boston Logan International Airport website (Source: Screenshot of http://www.massport.com/ logan-airport/at-the-airport/ada-compliance-and-accessibility, accessed on February 15, 2019).
54 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Case Example 38 To address the needs of some passengers with limited English proficiency, IAHâs website is fully supported in three languages: English, Spanish, and Chinese. Figure 50 shows the estimated times for international processing in Chinese. This real-time information is updated every 5 minutes. Figure 50. Estimated wait time for international travel (in Chinese) at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (Source: Screenshot of Houston Airports website, https://www.fly2houston.com/iah/chinese, accessed on April 24, 2019).
Results 55 Case Example 39 IAHâs interactive map uses the Locus Labs indoor location platform to provide directions with estimated walk time and security wait time (Figure 51). Figure 51. George Bush Intercontinental Airport app (Source: Screenshot of Houston Airports website, http://iahmaps.fly2houston.com, accessed on February 15, 2019).
56 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Case Example 40 PITâs website offers real-time information on security wait time and parking vacancies (Figure 52), although the parking information is not specific to availability of accessible parking. The siteâs homepage is supported by Google Translate and can be translated into dozens of languages. Figure 52. Estimated wait time for security checkpoint at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) (Source: Screenshot of PIT website, http://www.flypittsburgh.com, accessed on April 24, 2019). 4.3.3 Outreach and Collaboration with Community Organizations Most airport representatives interviewed emphasized the importance of community out- reach. In general, there are three main goals of community outreach: to inform community groups and organizations about accessibility services available at the airport; to provide edu- cational information for community members with disabilities; and to seek advice from com- munity organizations for people with disabilities about how to improve services for travelers with disabilities. Many airports interviewed mentioned that they collaborate with community groups and invite people with disabilities to offer feedback on services and programs provided, especially when planning for new services, programs, or facilities. These airports make a conscious effort to involve community groups in decision making. Some airports have a formal advisory board made up of community volunteers with disabilities who meet regularly with airport staff to provide feedback and comments. Several other airports besides MSP reported active collaboration with community groups to better understand the needs of people with disabilities and to provide educational information to community members.
Results 57 Case Example 41 To achieve MSPâs goal of providing equitable services for travelers with disabilities, MSP has formed a Travelers with Disabilities Advisory Committee (TDAC), along with a Travelers Advisory Committee (TAC). In their recent article published in Journal of Airport Management (Burke and Welbes 2018), Phil Burke and John Welbes state that TDAC has over 30 members ârepresenting people with sight and hearing loss, wheelchair users, the airlines, airport managers, and both regional and national accessibility expertsâ (p. 200). In the interview with Burke and Shelly Lopez, they explained that they are currently working with a community group for people with dementia and intend to add a representative for people with dementia to the TDAC committee. TDAC has not only âprovided people with disabilities with a voice within the airportâs policy structure,â as described by Burke and Welbes (2018), but has also âmade the airport more responsive to their needsâ (p. 205). Burke thinks that MSPâs experience can be helpful to other airports, and he emphasizes three keys to successfully instilling a culture of accessibility in the airport organization (Burke 2018): (1) having an influential internal champion to lead dedicated com- mittees and facilitate the communication between committees and top manage- ment; (2) taking action to show you are serious about changeâit is crucial to implement suggestions from the committee to see results; and (3) engaging and making meaningful partnerships. Case Example 42 SFO has been actively engaged with community groups such as The Arc San Francisco, San Francisco Independent Living, and LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Through continued collaboration, SFO is able to learn what works best for different traveler groups and provide travel tips directly to these community groups and their members. SFOâs experience suggests that airports will not know how best to help travelers with accessibility needs until they listen to the travelers and understand their experiences. The Ready.Set.Fly. program is an excellent example of how an airport can contribute to passenger education (Figure 53). Ready.Set.Fly. is a travel support program for individuals with cognitive disabilities and their families. It offers training sessions for passengers on how to plan and prepare for a trip. It also provides books and other resources that help passengers have pleasant travel experiences. Interviews with airport representatives clearly show the willingness of all airports to meet the needs of all passengers. It is also clear that community members and organizations need to reach out to airports and give constructive suggestions to assist airports to enhance their customer service. Community organizations representing people with disabilities that are proactively engaged with airlines and airports have made great contributions to helping their members have better travel experiences.
58 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Figure 53. Ready.Set.Fly. program organized by The Arc San Francisco, Jet Blue, and San Francisco International Airport (Source: Screenshot of The Arc San Francisco website, https://www. thearcsf.org/news-events/event-calendar.html/event/2018/09/22/ ready-set-fly-with-the-arc-sf-jet-blue-sfo, accessed on April 16, 2019). Case Example 43 The Arcâs Wings for Autism program (Figure 54) has successfully reached out to airlines and airports all over the nation to advocate the travel needs of people with ASD and other cognitive disabilities. The first Wings for Autism program was born at the Boston Logan Airport as a result of the advocacy and collaboration of a local chapter of The Arc, the Charles River Center, and the Massachusetts Port Authority. Now the program has expanded and The Arc hosts events at airports throughout the nation. Figure 54. Wings for Autism by The Arc (Source: The Arc).
Results 59 4.3.4 Disability Sensitivity Training Several people commented that current services and technologies available for airlines and airports may sometimes fall short of expectations of customers with disabilities, especially for passengers with cognitive disabilities and aging travelers. Customer service agents and volunteers are the best option to fill in these service gaps. Thus, they emphasized the impor- tance of disability sensitivity training for employees and volunteers. Although all airlines and airports offer mandatory employee training on customer service, with ADA and Title VI training included, the training is not always extensive. Case Example 44 In collaboration with The Arc, LightHouse San Francisco, TSA, and other partners, SFO developed a comprehensive disability awareness training program for airport and related airport services. The trainingâs learning outcomes include (1) under- standing the accessibility services and amenities available at SFO for people with disabilities, (2) recognizing attitudinal barriers that prevent service employees from providing excellent service to customers with disabilities (e.g., myths and assumptions about disability), and (3) demonstrating best ways to serve air passengers who are blind or have low vision, passengers who are deaf or hard of hearing, passengers using wheelchairs, and passengers with developmental and other disabilities. The Table of Contents of the disability awareness training program is displayed in Appendix D. Case Example 45 ATL has a strong commitment to disability sensitivity and provides several examples of how to go beyond minimal training. ATL has an explicit practice of hiring airport employees who have disabilities themselves and has found that these employees make a significant contribution to the organizationâs understanding of traveler needs. Currently, ATLâs customer service staff includes employees who are blind, use wheelchairs, and who use ASL. Through its contracts, ATL also encourages their lessees to hire people with disabilities. Ongoing evaluation is also important: ATL has developed a mystery shoppers program to evaluate lessees and determine if their staff know how to communicate effectively with customers with disabilities and customers with limited English proficiency, and has also developed its own app that tests the shuttle service employeesâ performance on helping people with disabilities (Figure 55). Steve Mayers, Director of Customer Experience and ADA Coordinator at ATL, underscores the importance of consid- ering the needs of travelers with disabilities at all stages of staff hiring, training, and management. (continued on next page)
60 Communication Strategies for Airport Passenger Access and Mobility Case Example 45 (Continued) Figure 55. App for performance evaluation of shuttle service employees at Atlanta International Airport (ATL) (Source: Courtesy of ATL).