Accessibility technology for visually impaired passengers
There are a variety of new, exciting technologies being introduced to help passengers navigate airports with ease. This has seen the introduction of augmented reality, hi-tech screens, and many apps. These help to reduce bottlenecks, promote retail at the airport, and assist with navigation. One important area that technology can make a significant difference, is in assisting passengers who are visually impaired.
For passengers with a range of disabilities, flying is not a straightforward process. While there is much progress to be made in improving accessibility across the passenger journey, one area that technology is already revolutionising airport navigation is for blind and visually impaired passengers.
On Global Accessibility Awareness Day in May, the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) became the first airport in the US to offer passengers GoodMaps Explore, a navigational tool for blind and visually impaired passengers.
The technology is built into an app which provides highly detailed information to passengers as they navigate around the airport. The app identifies bathrooms, food retail, outlets, water points, and charging stations whilst they move around the airport. The app uses LiDAR mapping technology and camera-based positioning to create detailed digital maps of the space. The technology provides accurate and precise location information including distances.
Dan Mann, Executive Director of the Louisville Regional Airport Authority said:
“This is about providing a best-in-class experience for all our travellers […] We are proud to be the community’s gateway, providing a warm welcome and a less stressful environment that enhances the ease of going from the gate to baggage claim and on to the final destination.”
Paul Ferrara, a passenger at SDF, has been blind since birth. Ferrara used the app to navigate the airport describing how important it was to have:
“Better ability to go into an unfamiliar place or a semi-familiar place and navigate without another person and that’s extremely important. There’s just not always people around. Sometimes you have to do things on your own.”
With technology transforming the aviation experience in all areas, it is important to ensure the industry continues to innovate to find ways to improve the experience for everyone.
Article by Jess Brownlow