In a step in the realm of airline accessibility, United Airlines is the first US carrier to incorporate Braille inside aircraft cabins. This innovative move aims to assist millions of travelers with visual disabilities, enabling them to navigate the cabin more independently and with ease. According to the US Department of Transportation, approximately 27 million people with disabilities traveled by air in 2019.
The airline has already equipped about a dozen aircraft with Braille markings, including individual rows and seat numbers, as well as inside and outside the lavatories. United plans to extend this initiative throughout its entire mainline fleet, with the goal of completing the rollout by the end of 2026.
In addition to the implementation of Braille, United is actively collaborating with disability advocacy groups such as the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the American Council of the Blind (ACB) to explore the use of other tactile navigational aids within the cabin. This includes raised letters, numbers, and arrows, aiming to further enhance accessibility.
Finding your seat on a plane or getting to the restroom is something most of us take for granted, but for millions of our customers, it can be a challenge to do independently.Linda Jojo, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer for United
Linda Jojo, Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer for United, underscored the significance of this development, stating that “by adding more tactile signage throughout our interiors, we’re making the flying experience more inclusive and accessible, and that’s good for everyone.”
“The flight experience is often frustrating for a number of reasons, one of which is the amount of information that is available exclusively through printed signs and other visual indicators. We hope to continue working with United to explore additional ways to make flying more accessible and less stressful for blind passengers”, said Mark Riccobono, President of the NFB.
In addition to Braille, the airline recently redesigned its mobile app to better serve people with visual disabilities, enhancing features such as increased color contrast and improved screen reader compatibility. United’s Inflight Seatback Entertainment screens also offer numerous accessible features, including closed captioning, text-to-speech controls, magnification, audio-described movies, and high-contrast text and color correction.
“We appreciate the airline’s continued exploration of additional in-flight navigational aids like large print and tactile indicators, and we encourage all airlines to follow United’s lead in making air travel more inclusive for the blind and low vision community”, stated Dan Spoone, Interim Executive Director of the ACB.
United Airlines’ dedication to disability inclusion and accessibility has earned the company the Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion award, for the eighth consecutive year, and a maximum score on the Disability Equality Index benchmarking tool. Aiming to advance the inclusion of individuals with disabilities, this index is a collaborative effort between the American Association of People with Disabilities and Disability:IN.