United has become the first airline in the US to add braille to its aircraft interiors, helping those with visual disabilities more easily navigate the cabin independently.
According to the Department of Transportation, about 27 million people with disabilities traveled by air in 2019.
The airline currently has equipped about a dozen aircraft with braille markings for individual rows and seat numbers as well as inside and outside the lavatories. United expects to outfit its entire mainline fleet with braille by the end of 2026.
“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,” said Linda Jojo, Executive Vice President, Chief Customer Officer for United.
“By adding more tactile signage throughout our interiors, we’re making the flying experience more inclusive and accessible, and that’s good for everyone.”
Tactile navigational aids
In addition to adding Braille, United is working with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and other disability advocacy groups to explore the use of other tactile navigational aids throughout the cabin such as raised letters, numbers and arrows.
“We applaud United for taking an important step toward making its aircraft more accessible to blind passengers,” said NFB President Mark Riccobono.
“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.”
“United is taking additional steps to create an accessible airline passenger experience through braille signage,” said ACB Interim Executive Director Dan Spoone.
“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.”
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