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Collage of images about air travel including a airplane, paper ticket, credit card, and airline website

Overview

On November 12, 2013, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) published in the Federal Register a final rule that amends its rules implementing the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) to require U.S. air carriers and foreign air carriers to make their Web sites that market air transportation to the general public in the United States accessible to individuals with disabilities. In addition, DOT is amending its rule that prohibits unfair and deceptive practices and unfair methods of competition to require ticket agents that are not small businesses to disclose and offer Web-based fares to passengers who indicate that they are unable to use the agents’ Web sites due to a disability.

Effective Dates

The rule is effective on December 12, 2013. Specifically, the final rule is requiring U.S. and foreign air carriers that operate at least one aircraft having a seating capacity of more than 60 passengers to ensure their primary Web sites are accessible. The requirements will be implemented in two phases:

  • Phase I: Web pages that provide core air travel services and information (e.g., booking and changing a reservation) must be accessible by December 12, 2015.
  • Phase II: All remaining pages on a carrier’s Web site must be accessible by December 12, 2016.

Additionally, ticket agents that are not small businesses must disclose and offer Web-based fares on or after June 10, 2014, to passengers who indicate that they are unable to use the agents’ Web sites due to a disability.

Applicable Web Accessibility Standards

Web sites must conform to the standards for accessibility contained in the widely accepted Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 and meet the Level A and AA Success Criteria.

Summary of Major Provisions: Web Site Accessibility

Scope/Coverage

Requires U.S. and foreign carriers that operate at least one aircraft having a seating capacity of more than 60 passengers, and own or control a primary Web site that markets air transportation to consumers in the United States to ensure that public-facing pages on their primary Web site are accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Requires ticket agents that are not small businesses to disclose and offer Web-based fares to passengers that indicate that they are unable to use an agent’s Web site due  to a disability.

Web Site Accessibility Standard

Requires carriers to ensure that Web pages on their primary Web sites associated with core travel information and services conform to all Level A and AA success criteria of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 within two years of the rule’s effective date and that all other Web pages on their primary Web sites are conformant within three years of the rule’s effective date (December 12, 2013).

Usability Testing of Web Sites

Requires carriers to test the usability of their accessible primary Web sites in consultation with individuals or organizations representing visual, auditory, tactile, and cognitive disabilities.

Equivalent Service

Requires carriers to provide applicable Web-based fare discounts and other Web-based amenities to customers with a disability who cannot use their Web sites due to a disability.

Requires ticket agents to provide applicable Web-based fare discounts on and after 180 days from the rule’s effective date to customers with a disability who cannot use an agent’s Web site due to a disability.

Online Disability Accommodation Requests

Requires carriers to make an online service request form available within two years of the rule’s effective date to passengers with disabilities to request services including, but not limited to, wheelchair assistance, seating accommodation, escort assistance for a visually impaired passenger, and stowage for an assistive device.