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Reminder: Airlines Should Be Actively Working on Digital Accessibility

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Website accessibility requirements are officially in effect for airlines operating flights within or to the U.S. or selling tickets to the U.S. public. Under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), these airlines are required to ensure that the public-facing content of their websites conforms to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA.

Currently, air carriers need to make their core air travel services compliant, and make their entire site compliant as of December 12, 2016. Core air travel services are defined in 14 CFR 382.43 to include portions of the site related to seven core activities:

  • Booking or changing a reservation, including all flight amenities;
  • Checking in for a flight;
  • Accessing a personal travel itinerary;
  • Accessing the status of a flight;
  • Accessing a personal frequent flyer account;
  • Accessing flight schedules; and
  • Accessing carrier contact information.

By implication, this also includes the general portions of the site users need to navigate through to access these services.

Until the website is fully compliant, airlines should have measures in place to allow individuals with disabilities to obtain services and information. These should include, at a minimum:

  • Toll-free hotline: A toll-free telephone number dedicated to individuals with disabilities should be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This can be an existing phone number if the carrier provides a special channel for customers with disabilities (i.e., “Press 2 if you are a passenger with a disability that requires assistance.”) A live customer service representative is not required 24/7, but calls must be returned in a timely manner (usually within one business day).
  • Email address: An email address should be posted that will allow carriers to receive messages from individuals with disabilities who state that they are unable to access the carrier’s website. This can be an existing email address as long as messages from passengers with disabilities can be flagged and replied to in a timely manner.

The toll-free telephone number and email address should be posted prominently on the carrier’s website. If a carrier fails to have adequate temporary measures in place, the carrier may be subject to enforcement action by the Enforcement Office.

In addition to website accessibility, automated kiosks operated by carriers at airports must also be made accessible to people with disabilities. The regulations require that 25% of kiosks installed after December 12, 2016 be accessible to people with disabilities and that 25% of all kiosks be accessible by December 12, 2022.

Need help with your airline web or kiosk accessibility program?

SSB BART Group offers several services relevant to ACAA compliance, like:

  • Auditing websites for WCAG 2.0 Level AA conformance
  • Auditing kiosks for relevant conformance standards
  • Providing a set of web and kiosk best practices aligned to the ACAA
  • Assisting with accessibility policy and program development
  • Ongoing, on-demand help from our accessibility experts

If you would like to learn whether your website is accessible to individuals with disabilities, SSB BART Group can help. Read more about our website audit services or register for a free trial of AMP (Accessibility Management Platform) at https://dev-level-access.pantheonsite.io/products/audit-services/.

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