Hamad International Airport (HIA) for All: “Access and Way Finding For Passengers with Vision Impairment Accessible Inflight Safety Information: The Case Of Qatar Airways

Overview

Safety is one of the concerns people usually have whenever travelling or using any kind of transportation. Closed spaces tend to be more dangerous, which can raise the level of anxiety. In airplanes, anxiety levels peek given the closed environment and the airbound condition. Thus, as the possibilities of risk become higher, the importance of safety instructions increase. This is particularly the case for individuals with sensory loss, for example, the blind. Using Qatar Airways as a case study, this research aims to:

(1) understand the needs of blind travellers when flying.

(2) determine if the information provided inflight is adequate.

(3) develop an Audio-Tactile Information KIT (ATIK) for blind travellers.

(4) validate the new approach to inflight information for blind travellers.

The ATIK contained raised maps of the seating plan of the airplane and its mockup, Audio Description (AD), a miniature of the life vest and oxygen mask, and an easy reading safety brochure in both print and braille. There is also an addition to the safety video, which is the Alternative Text (AT). The ATIK were tested with blind participants in the premises of Qatar Airways.

Eventually, this research project ends with a set of recommendations, mainly provided by the blind participants themselves, to be considered by all parties involved in the travelling process, in an integrated effort towards raising the quality of air travel for blind people.

This research answered two main questions:

1. How useful is the existing inflight safety information for blind passengers?

2. Can an Audio-Tactile Information Kit improve blind people’s understanding of safety information in-flight and enhance their autonomy?

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