Every single day, more than 2 million people use airports across the United States. This will come as no surprise if you’ve visited an airport recently (especially one serving a major city): they are busy, frustrating, and often chaotic places.
That makes traveling by plane much more daunting, adding additional stress to the usual routine of customs, security etc. — now just imagine how much more difficult all that would be with sight loss.
With more than 3 million Americans living with blindness or impaired vision, airports have a responsibility to review their accessibility services and make sure they’re as effective as can be. This is essential to make all passengers’ experience as safe and comfortable as possible, so what options are available?
1. Audio Announcements
Information display screens are prevalent in airports, showing arrival / departure times, gate numbers and other critical details. But what about passengers who struggle, or are completely unable, to see them?
Audio announcements are essential to convey information to people unable to see display screens. Yet it’s too easy to miss these or become confused when announcements make no sense: airports must ensure anyone making audio announcements speaks slowly and clearly. Additionally, they should repeat themselves at least once.
2. Effective Signage
Navigating an airport is never easy when you’re unfamiliar with the layout, particularly when crowds of people swarm here, there, and everywhere. Effective placement of signage has the power to save time and reduce congestion.
However, airports should only install signs with the following features:
- contrasting colors to enhance visibility
- large text
- Braille on all relevant wall signs
Signs should be located in strategic positions where they’re unlikely to be missed, to aid passengers on their journey through all areas of the airport.
3. Indoor Orientation Solutions
Passengers living with blindness or vision impairments may not like having to approach members of airport staff for help finding their way. Independence is important to most of us, and there may be nobody free to escort you anyway.
Today’s smartphone technology empowers people with blindness or impaired vision to find their way through airports, using indoor orientation solutions such as RightHear. This is an innovative smartphone app designed to transform your experience of exploring indoor locations and restore your independence.
RightHear works in conjunction with cutting-edge sensors that can be installed throughout airports, positioned in every area that passengers are likely to pass through. Audio directions inform the user of their surroundings, telling them which direction to take and how to find specific rooms or areas.
This app warns users of any obstacles or barriers in their way, increasing their safety as they move through airports. While people affected by sight loss or impaired vision can often depend on others to assist them, this isn’t always the case (and, again, the importance of independence should never be underestimated).
Airports should take advantage of indoor orientation solutions to increase accessibility for all of their passengers. Integrating cutting-edge technology can improve the overall traveling experience for the millions of passengers with sight-related difficulties, maximizing their safety and satisfaction on a daily basis.