Airport Business

MAY 2018

The airport professional's source for airport industry news, articles, events, and careers.

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WAYFINDING By Jim Harding Promote Independent Travel in Airports Design principles can improve ADA access giving travelers with various disabilities independent wayfinding through an airport terminal. For even the most seasoned travelers, the airport experience can be extremely overwhelming. Stressors such as confusing wayfinding and last-minute flight changes are taxing enough for "able-bodied" travelers, let alone older flyers and people with disabilities. As a traveler who is blind, Pat Pound knows all too well the challenges these user groups face when navigating the airport environment, spending considerably more time and energy than her sighted peers gathering information, packing for her faithful guide dog Iris, and setting up the airline ground services she needs. I recently had the pleasure of working with Pat on the Transportation Research Board's ACRP Research Report 177: Enhancing Airport Wayfinding for Aging Travelers and Persons with Disabilities — a practical guidebook to help airports improve pedestrian wayfinding systems so older adults and persons with diverse abilities can travel independently. Developed with travelers like Pat in mind, the objective of the guidebook is to assist airports in successfully communicating information to these user groups to help them find their way in the airport environment using the principles of universal design. In order to achieve this objective, however, an airport has to consider far more than just helping people with cognitive, sensory or mobility challenges know where to go. Unless a comprehensive list of considerations is addressed, passengers with diverse abilities will encounter issues that affect their ability to travel independently regardless of their wayfinding abilities — and that is where ACRP Research Report 177 comes in. In this article, I explore how the guidebook offers real benefit to the industry by empowering airports to develop best practices to effectively accommodate the wayfinding needs of aging travelers and persons with disabilities, helping Pat's dream become a reality. APPLYING THE PRINCIPLES OF UNIVERSAL DESIGN Independent travel in airports for older adults and people with disabilities such as low vision, mobility limitations or problems with short-term memory presents complex navigational challenges in complex spaces that are not easily met by using typical approaches to wayfinding and signage. Reports submitted to Congress by the U.S. Department of Transportation reveal that disability-related air travel complaints involving all air carriers increased by a staggering 139 percent during the 10-year period from 2004 to 2014. This demonstrates that additional efforts are needed to enable airports to help these user groups travel independently and with dignity. As disability categories include blind and low vision, deaf and hard of hearing, ambulatory and non-ambulatory and intellectual disabilities such as autism and dementia, it is important to understand that each person with a disability is an individual with unique needs. For example, the needs of a traveler with late-onset vision loss will be different from someone Common use self-service kiosk at SFO ACRP 177 Research Team 16 airportbusiness May 2018

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