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United Adds Braille to Aircraft Interiors

United’s new tactile signage is set to enhance the flying experience for passengers with visual impairments, offering them greater autonomy in identifying row numbers, seat assignments, and lavatory locations. 

The first aircraft equipped with Braille has already taken flight, and United plans to complete the transformation of its entire mainline fleet by 2026. 

In a pioneering move, United has become the first U.S. airline to integrate Braille into aircraft interiors, a move set to revolutionize the in-flight experience for millions of visually impaired passengers by enabling them to navigate the cabin independently. This initiative is particularly significant considering that, as per the Department of Transportation, approximately 27 million people with disabilities traveled by air in 2019 alone.

United Promises A Fully Inclusive Fleet

Image of Braille markings for an individual row on a United aircraft.
Image of Braille markings for an individual row on a United aircraft. Source: United

In an endeavor to enhance accessibility, United Airlines has presently incorporated Braille markings on approximately a dozen of their aircraft. These tactile enhancements, aimed at assisting visually impaired passengers, include Braille inscriptions for individual seat numbers, row identifiers, and, crucially, both inside and outside lavatory areas. 

United Airlines envisages a fully inclusive fleet, with the goal of deploying Braille across all mainline aircraft by the culmination of 2026. This commitment underlines United’s dedication to fostering a truly accessible air travel experience for all passengers.

“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.”

United Committed to More Accessible Skies

United Airlines is integrating Braille into its aircraft interiors and collaborating with national organizations such as the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and the American Council of the Blind (ACB). Alongside these prominent disability advocacy groups, they are investigating the potential for implementing a range of tactile navigational aids within the cabin. These proposed enhancements encompass the introduction of raised letters, numerical indicators, and directional 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.”

In a commendable act of corporate inclusivity, United Airlines has been acknowledged as a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion for an unbroken run of eight years. This notable recognition is the result of the company’s stellar performance on the Disability Equality Index, a benchmarking instrument co-developed by the American Association of People with Disabilities and Disability:IN. The index serves as a significant tool that forwards the cause of incorporating people with disabilities into the mainstream.

“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.”

United’s Recent Accessibility Programs

United’s initiative to incorporate Braille into their mainline aircraft interiors over the ensuing years exemplifies their dedication to fostering accessible solutions for both their valued customers and diligent employees:

  • The airline recently redesigned its United mobile app, improving its UI for people with visual disabilities. Enhancements include increased color contrast, more space between graphics and reordering how information is displayed. It was also designed to better integrate with the screen reader technologies like VoiceOver and TalkBack. 
  • United’s Inflight Seatback Entertainment screens offer a wide range of accessible features. They include closed captioning, text-to-speech controls, magnification, explore-by-touch capabilities, audio-described movies, and adjustable and high-contrast text and color correction. As part of United Next, the airline’s historic growth plan, the carrier expects to take delivery of about 700 new narrow and widebody aircraft by the end of 2032, all of which will include the latest in seatback screen entertainment options. 
  • Through Bridge, United’s Business Resource Group for people of all abilities, employees help create a workplace environment where all can strive to achieve their maximum potential and support our commitment to being an ally for customers with disabilities. 
  • United’s long-standing partnership with Special Olympics provides employment opportunities to athletes through the Special Olympics Service Ambassador program. This workforce development initiative offers a forum to work alongside Airport Operations and Customer Service teams to assist customers. The airline also supports Special Olympics through volunteerism, fundraising, and travel support to attend national and international competitions.

About United

At United, Good Leads The Way. With U.S. hubs in Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., United operates the most comprehensive global route network among North American carriers. It is now the largest airline in the world as measured by available seat miles. For more about how to join the United team, please visit www.united.com/careers and more information about the company is at www.united.com. United Airlines Holdings, Inc., the parent company of United Airlines, Inc., is traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol “UAL.”

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