Enhancing airport accessibility for persons with disabilities

Jean-Sebastien Pard by Jean-Sebastien Pard | Oct 1, 2018

Every day, around 100,000 flights transport over 10 million passengers across a global air transportation network comprising over 1,400 scheduled airlines, 26,000 aircraft in service and 3,900 airports. According to the latest long-term traffic forecasts, by 2034, air passenger traffic is expected to more than double as compared to 2016[.

Aviation, like all other transport modes, needs to recognize and accommodate the growing number of persons with disabilities who fly. Persons with disabilities currently represent more than 15% of the world population. Due to a steady increase in life expectancy globally, aging populations, advances in medical care, assistive technology and other technological innovations, the number of persons with disabilities is increasing fast. Not only do persons with disabilities represent a growing percentage of the world’s population, they are increasingly able to travel by plane. For persons with disabilities, an aviation journey free of barriers remains too often, and for too many, an intangible reality.

Today, countries have laws and government regulations covering issues that range from construction standards for buildings and transportation systems to the designs of special facilities, as well as required service levels for persons with disabilities and persons with reduced mobility. It is critical that the air transport industry, including airport operators, continue to play a leading role in removing barriers that prevent the safety, comfort and ease of access to air transportation for persons with disabilities.

Airports & Persons with Disabilities Handbook

The fifth edition of the Airports & Persons with Disabilities Handbook was launched on 12 September 2018 at the first ACI Customer Excellence Global Summit, hosted by Halifax Stanfield International Airport. This guidance document is intended to help airports enhance the accessibility of air travel for persons with disabilities, including those with reduced mobility and hidden disabilities. The recommendations in this handbook will help enhance accessibility of air travel for persons with disabilities by providing guidance for the design of new facilities and the upgrade of existing ones.

This fifth edition has been updated to help airports improve the overall airport experience for persons with disabilities and includes:

  • best practices to accommodate passengers with sensory disabilities;
  • content on technology and innovative solutions for flight information displays, check-in kiosks, mobile platforms, online tools and phone apps; and
  • examples of leading-edge practices such as accessible toilet facilities, sign language videophone booths, wayfinding and signage.

The handbook was reviewed by the International Disability Alliance (IDA) and takes into account guidance from international entities such as the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Manual on Access to Air Transport by Persons with Disabilities (Doc 9984), and the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRDP).

This new handbook helps to ensure that airports provide ease of access to persons with disabilities and that the facilities meet accessibility standards. “Airports recognize the importance of accommodating the needs of all people using and working in their environment,” said ACI World Director General Angela Gittens. “This is why many simple and innovative ideas that can be used and a review of some of the most advanced aids now available are identified in the handbook for the benefit of the aviation industry.”

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Airports & Persons with Disabilities Handbook
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ACI is confident that implementation of the recommendations will contribute significantly towards the goal of barrier-free airports, and wishes to thank all those involved in the preparation of this handbook.

Jean-Sebastien Pard

Jean-Sebastien Pard

Manager, Facilitation and IT , ACI World
Jean-Sebastien provides guidance and support to the airport community on a wide range of activities linked to the processing and clearance of aircraft, people, and goods. He also leads the development of best practices, implementation strategies, and initiatives in the areas of passenger process improvements and simplified passenger travel solutions while supporting the work of organizations such as IATA, WTTC, WEF and WHO.
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