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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25728.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25728.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25728.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25728.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25728.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25728.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2020. Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25728.
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1 How U.S. airports accommodate customers and who they consider those customers to be has undergone a major transformation over the past decades, as evidenced by earlier ACRP research (Boudreau et al. 2016). Gone are the days when airports left passenger-related concerns to airlines alone. The most innovative airports now take ownership of service standards airside and landside and collaborate with airlines and other stakeholders to maximize both customer experience and revenue. A large and growing segment are customers with various disabilities—physical, sensory, and intellectual—with older adults, in particular, fueling this growth. The needs of the latter are hard to overlook when requests for wheelchair assistance at major hub airports now exceed 1 million per year and continue to rise. But, to what extent are these travelers also benefiting from the new focus on customer experience? Research for this report involved an extensive literature review, outreach to aviation stake- holders and individuals with disabilities through focus groups and surveys, information gather- ing at numerous aviation industry conferences and expos, and site visits to more than a dozen airports in the United States and overseas. These efforts have provided an in-depth view of the challenges stakeholders face in delivering the quality of service to which they aspire. Many are passionate about what they do. Equally passionate are the travelers with disabilities, who often have less-than-stellar experiences but, nonetheless, continue to fly for business and leisure. The findings of the past 2 years underscore the importance of this project. Even the most progressive airports have gaps in their services and facilities; while, at the other end of the spectrum, many U.S. airports still focus exclusively on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance in the narrowest interpretation (i.e., only meeting basic accessibility standards rather than seeking to create an equivalent experience). One important conclusion is that the role of senior management is key to moving beyond a mindset that views accessibility as benefiting only a limited few—and, therefore, not worth significant investment of scarce resources—to realizing that accessibility improves the experience for all customers and is a fundamental part of economic and social sustainability. This report details the many innovations and best practices identified by this research and explores how the latest technologies can help solve the communication problems that many respondents identified as a root cause of service failure. The level of interest shown by managers at airports, airlines, and service companies during the research and their excitement about what others are doing bodes well for implementation of the recommendations in this report. So, too, does the heightened interest and attention paid to travelers with disabilities and to older adults in aviation publications such as Passenger Terminal World, Airport Improvement, and International Airport Review and at leading industry conferences and expos. At Passenger C H A P T E R 1 Introduction

2 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities Terminal Expo, the “Aging Population and [Persons with Reduced Mobility] PRMs” conference track has continued to expand since it was first introduced in 2012. In 2018, so many proposals were submitted to conference Chair Roberto Castiglioni, director of Reduced Mobility Rights, Ltd., that the topic spilled over into “Management and Operations” and “Management and Operations: Crisis and Disaster” tracks. Airports Council International (ACI) has been an especially strong advocate for travelers with disabilities, offering training in awareness and accessibility online and through multiday workshops. In 2018, their “Accommodating Passengers with Disabilities” workshop—led by Open Doors Organization trainers—was held at Piarco International Airport, near Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago; San Francisco International Airport in California, and Denver International Airport in Colorado. Centerlines Today, the ACI digital newsletter, frequently highlights accessibility best practices. In 2018, ACI also released the 5th edition of its Airports & Persons with Disabilities Handbook, an important resource for members (Airports Council International 2018). On another positive note, ACI Europe and the European Disability Forum in 2016 introduced the Accessible Airport Award, won first by Dublin International Airport and in subsequent years by airports in Larnaca and in Pafos, Cyprus. In 2018, International Airport Review added a new Accessibility category to its 2018 awards after receiving an overwhelming number of accessibility-related submissions. London Gatwick Airport and Neatebox, Ltd. in Edinburgh, Scotland, made the short list, with the Accessibility Award going to Calgary Airport Authority in Alberta, Canada, for its “one of a kind, universally accessible” YYC LINK Passenger Shuttle (International Airport Review 2018c). The idea of having bragging rights with regard to accessibility is a new one, with recognition and good public relations coming not just from industry peers but also from the popular press, local TV, and social media, which give wide coverage to initiatives such as autism familiarization tours, sensory rooms, therapy pets, and service animal relief areas (SARAs). However, airports still face many challenges as they grow and change in ways that may be detrimental for their customers with disabilities; for example, the current practice of relo- cating facilities such as intermodal transportation and rental car facilities to remote sites in order to reduce curbside congestion. With airport space at a premium and revenue generation paramount, finding space for additional disability-related amenities or the functional areas needed by service providers can be problematic. By focusing on how these choices affect not only passengers with disabilities but also the broader traveling public and by providing con- crete guidance, this report should encourage airports to take the needs of such passengers into greater consideration during the planning process. 1.1 Purpose of the Report This report aims to provide airport directors and managers with a comprehensive resource on how to improve customer experience for older travelers and for individuals with disabilities, enabling them to be as self-reliant as possible. This information is relevant not just for customer service or—more narrowly—the ADA Section 504 coordinator but for virtually all departments, including planning, architecture, and operations. The report summarizes research into the inno- vative approaches used by leading U.S. and non-U.S. airports that excel at addressing the needs of all guests. It also covers noteworthy innovations by airlines and the service companies that assist travelers with disabilities, as well as technologies already in use or that have the potential to facilitate accessibility at the airport. The researchers hope that all aviation stakeholders—not only airports—will use this report to improve their services and facilities. Whether it is the airlines (as in the United States and

Introduction 3 Canada) or the airports (as in Europe under Regulation (EC) 1107/2006) that manage assis- tance to guests with disabilities, communication and collaboration among all responsible stakeholders are key to eliminating the service gaps and failures identified by this and earlier ACRP research (Harding et al. 2017, Boudreau et al. 2016, Mein et al. 2014). This report works in conjunction with ACRP Research Report 177: Enhancing Airport Wayfinding for Aging Travelers and Persons with Disabilities and, therefore, includes only more recent wayfinding solutions or technologies. However, a certain amount of content overlap is unavoidable since ACRP Research Report 177 took a holistic approach to wayfinding by addressing the services and facilities that support the individual’s ability to move independently through an airport rather than just “helping them know where to go” (Harding et al. 2017). While many best practices and innovations identified in ACRP Research Report 177 also appear in this report, readers are referred to ACRP Research Report 177 for lengthier discus- sions or analyses. Examples include the detailed discussion in the earlier report of user needs in Chapter 2 and wayfinding technologies in Chapter 8. Airports and airlines that manage terminals should also use the Wayfinding Accessibility Audit Checklist from ACRP Research Report 177 in assessing their own facilities and services. Organized by journey segment, this self-evaluation tool is downloadable from www.trb.org by searching for “ACRP Research Report 177.” The organization of this report is summarized in Figure 1-1. 1.2 Overview of the Report The report is organized as follows: Chapter 1 is this introduction to the report. Chapter 2 introduces the disability travel market and shares statistics from the Open Doors Organization nationwide studies on adult travelers with disabilities. It also provides back- ground information on disability types, prevalence, and needs, as well as on the characteristics and needs of older adults with functional limitations. Introduction Innovations by Journey Segment Implementing Inclusion Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 3: Pretrip Planning Chapter 10: Management Practices Chapter 2: Understanding the Needs of Travelers with Disabilities and of Older Adults Chapter 4: Arriving at Airport by Ground Transportation Chapter 11: Architecture and Design Chapter 5: From Terminal Curbside Through Security Chapter 12: Information Technology and Assistive Technologies Chapter 6: From Security Checkpoint to Gate and from Gate to Gate Chapter 7: Boarding– Disembarking and Stowing– Retrieving Assistive Devices Chapter 8: From Arrival Gate to Terminal Exit and Interterminal Connections Chapter 9: From Terminal Exit to Leaving the Airport Figure 1-1. Organization of the report.

4 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities Chapters 3 to 9 explore user needs and innovations by journey segment, following the organizational structure used in ACRP Synthesis 51: Impacts of Aging Travelers on Airports, ACRP Research Report 161: Guidelines for Improving Airport Services for Inter­ national Customers, and the Wayfinding Accessibility Audit Checklist. Each chapter first examines issues and challenges facing older adults and individuals with various disabilities during that specific journey segment. The chapter then describes the innovative solutions designed to improve customer experience at each touchpoint and the best practices for providing access to information and assistance. Chapter 10 focuses on management practices to facilitate inclusion and accessibility. These practices include the role of senior management, planning holistically for inclusion, manag- ing accessibility internally and among airport stakeholders, the role of the ADA Section 504 coordinator, accessibility committees, self-evaluation, disability awareness training, emergency planning and irregular operations, and fostering innovation. Chapter 11 on architecture and design explores the benefits of a universal design approach and how universal design differs from accessibility design. The chapter also looks at building codes, such as the ADA and International Building Code. It also examines current trends in renovation and construction at U.S. airports and how these trends affect older travelers and customers with disabilities. Sections on designing for specific disabilities—such as autism, dementia, hearing loss, and low vision—and on new accessible amenities are included, as well. Chapter 12 takes a detailed technical look at information technology (IT) and people- processing, as well as technologies and apps that may help individual travelers function more independently at the airport or when planning a trip. Appendices A and B, Airport Case Study Highlights and a User Needs Survey, respectively, can be found at www.trb.org by searching “ACRP Research Report 210.” The Wayfinding Accessibility Audit Checklist can be found at www.trb.org by searching “ACRP Research Report 177.” 1.3 Research Approach Data collection for this report involved a variety of research activities, including a com- prehensive literature review; outreach to stakeholders and individuals with disabilities through focus groups, online surveys, and participation at key aviation conferences and expos; and site visits to airports and other types of accessible facilities in the United States, Canada, and Europe. 1.3.1 Literature Review The objective of the Literature Review was to explore the existing literature, including aviation and technology journals, books, websites, blogs, and twitter accounts, to • Expand the research team’s knowledge of relevant innovations either in development or already being applied in airports or other public facilities—such as hospitals and educational institutions—or in other modes of transportation; • Identify additional airports in the United States and worldwide that are addressing the needs of travelers with disabilities and of older adults in ways that go beyond minimum accessibility standards; • Discover legal and regulatory requirements in the United States, Canada, Europe, or else- where that may help or hinder implementation;

Introduction 5 • Explore user needs pretrip and at the airport for the various categories of disability, challenges faced, and new technologies or best practices to overcome those barriers; and • Assess the extent to which disability access and inclusion are addressed in aviation publi- cations, conferences, customer satisfaction surveys, awards, and so on, and whether such measurement has changed over time. Given the broad nature of the research scope, the search categories were numerous and—for the most part—fell within the following consolidated topics: • Airport Management Practices, • User Needs, • Architecture and Design, • IT–Communications and People-Processing Technology, • Ground Transportation and Automated People Movers, and • Best Practices: Specific Airports and Stakeholders. In all, the research team read and analyzed more than 500 sources, the most important of which are included in References and Bibliography. 1.3.2 Stakeholder Outreach 1.3.2.1 Focus Groups Eleven focus groups were conducted in November 2016 at the Open Doors Organization Universal Access in Airports event at San Francisco International Airport. A separate set of questions was employed for each stakeholder type, with the breakout of sessions and partici- pants as follows: • Airports: Three groups with 22 participants from 17 airports, including one Canadian airport; • Airlines: Five groups with 49 participants representing 15 carriers, including one Mexican airline; • Airline Service Companies: One group with seven participants from four major companies; and • Travelers with Disabilities (User Needs): Two groups with 15 participants who self-identified as having the following types of disabilities: mobility, hearing, vision, mental health, and short stature. The sessions were recorded for later analysis, using a thematic approach. That is, patterns or themes were identified from each group’s discussion. Then the patterns or themes were com- pared and combined to produce a report for each of the four group types. 1.3.2.2 Surveys Online surveys were conducted among the three groups of aviation stakeholders and travel- ers with disabilities using questionnaires preapproved by the TRB research panel. Participation was solicited via email using contacts known to the research team and mailing lists developed through their work within the aviation industry. Despite two follow-up email blasts, response rates from aviation stakeholders were low. However, the data gathered did help to identify addi- tional innovations, best practices, and the challenges that these companies face in accommodat- ing travelers with disabilities. On the other hand, the user needs survey had a 49 percent response rate. While not a representative sample, the 109 respondents with disabilities provided useful information on their individual challenges as air travelers with mobility, hearing, vision, and learning disabilities or who use service animals. The full User Needs Survey report can be found at www.trb.org by searching “ACRP Research Report 210.”

6 Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities 1.3.2.3 Industry Events Information on innovations, best practices, and technologies was also gathered at more than 20 aviation industry events from 2016 to 2018, most notably: • The FAA National Civil Rights Training Conference for Airports, 2016–18; • The FAA ADA/Section 504 Coordinators Forum, 2017–18; • The Passenger Terminal Expo and Conference, 2016–18; • The M-Enabling Summit and Expo, 2016–17; • The Open Doors Organization Universal Access in Airports, 2016, 2018; • The Open Doors Organization Airline and Service Company Symposia, 2016–17; • The AAAE Innovation Forum, 2017; • The Airport PRM Leadership Conference, 2017–18; • The Civil Aviation Authority PRM and Airport Accessibility Conference, 2018; and • The ACI Customer Excellence Global Summit, 2018 1.3.3 Airport Case Studies The airports selected as case studies are recognized innovators and represent different regions, sizes, and governance structures. Three non-airports were also included as case studies. The 1-day visits included a tour of the airport—or other facility—to observe and photograph land- side and terminal facilities and services. Interviews were conducted with key airport executives and managers (Access Coordinator, IT, Planning, Architecture, Operations, Diversity, Com- munity Relations, and so on) and, in some cases, airline, service company, and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) representatives. At Los Angeles and Minneapolis–Saint Paul international airports, the team attended accessibility advisory board meetings. Other airports and institutions visited during the research are also listed below. Airport Case Study Highlights can be found at www.trb.org by searching for “ACRP Research Report 210.” Case Studies: Airports • Baltimore–Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI) • Cincinnati–Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) • Fort Myers Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW) • Grand Rapids Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) • Miami International Airport (MIA) • Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) • Orlando International Airport (MCO) • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) • Greater Rochester International Airport, New York (ROC) • Rochester International Airport, Minnesota (RST) • San Francisco International Airport (SFO) • Seattle–Tacoma International Airport (SEA) • Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) • Vancouver International Airport (YVR) Case Studies: Non-Airports • Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota • Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Miami, Florida • Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, Florida Other Site Visits • Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania • Denver International Airport (DEN)

Introduction 7 • Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) • New York John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), JetBlue Terminal 5 • Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) • Portland International Airport (PDX) • London Gatwick Airport (LGW) • London Heathrow Airport (LHR) • Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND) 1.4 Intended Benefits of the Report This report describes the barriers in facilities, services, and communication that travelers with disabilities typically face in airports and the innovations and best practices designed to overcome these obstacles and provide them an equitable and accessible experience. Among the intended benefits are a better understanding of • The growing importance of the disability travel market and how meeting the needs of these customers is integral to the overall functionality and sustainability of the airport; • Why close cooperation between all airport stakeholders is key to providing seamless travel for these customers and the steps needed to achieve such cooperation; • The difference between universal design and the minimum accessibility standards of the ADA and why universal design accommodates a broader range of needs and can minimize the need for and cost of additional assistance; • The needs of customers with disabilities at each touchpoint in their journey to, at, and from the airport; • How the innovations and best practices identified by the report are being applied by airports, airlines, and service companies to address unmet needs and to create a seamless travel experi- ence; and • Management best practices and the role senior management can play in creating a culture of inclusion.

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The airport industry has adopted specific design codes in response to state and federal regulatory requirements—including the Americans with Disabilities Act—to accommodate employees and travelers with disabilities. These design codes include general architectural guidelines and technology adapted for transportation facilities.

The TRB Airport Cooperative Research Program's ACRP Research Report 210: Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities outlines innovative solutions to facilitate accessibility for passengers with a variety of physical, sensory, and/or cognitive challenges.

The report includes additional materials, including case-study highlights in Appendix A, a user-needs survey in Appendix B, and a Wayfinding Accessibility Audit Checklist, which also includes a separate introduction.

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