United Airlines has been recognized by a prominent nonprofit group for its advances in offering a more accessible in-flight entertainment system.
How United Airlines Has Made Its IFE More Accessible
Last Week, United was awarded the Dr. Margaret R. Pfanstiehl Memorial Achievement Award in Audio Description — Research and Development by the American Council of the Blind. Recognized as the first U.S. airline to offer an “extensive suite of accessibility features,” United was commended for offering the largest library of movies and TV shows among U.S. airlines with audio descriptions and/or close-captioning.
Additionally, United’s latest IFE system (available on all 787-10 and select other aircraft) offers:
- Text-to-speech: Enables an audio readout of each of the items on-screen to provide another method of communication for travelers. Also provides access to the passenger service panel for reading light and flight attendant call button use.
- Exploration by touch: This function describes each item as your finger moves across the screen.
- Adjustments: Change the text-to-speech voice volume, speed and pitch.
- Text sizing: Access three different text sizes for easier visibility.
- Magnification: Enlarges a portion of the screen for easier visibility.
- High-contrast text: Makes it easier to read the text on the screen.
- Color correction (beta): This setting enables different color settings to account for types of color blindness.
- Color inversion (beta): This setting inverts color on the screen so it’s more comfortable for those with sensitivity to brightness.
- Mobility: If swiping is a challenge, enable paging arrows to navigate the system with simple touch gestures or a mouth stylus.
United Should Advertise This…
I had no idea many of these features were offered…and neither apparently do those with vision issues. The American Council for the Blind noted one passenger’s experience:
“I flew from Sydney, Australia, to Los Angeles, California via United Airlines on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. While navigating the seatback display, my wife discovered that the United in-flight entertainment system on this plane had built-in accessibility features.
“This was my first time using this screen reader and interface. In addition to navigating AD
content, this screen reader gave access to the passenger light and flight attendant call button. These are features that can be independently activated and deactivated by a passenger who is blind with a specific gesture on the screen.”
Notice anything? The guy did not find the accessibility features himself…his wife did!
Congrats to United on earning this award. Now it should get the word out that it is available!