Guidelines for Service to Blind Air Travelers: A Proposal from the World Blind Union

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The proposal below was presented to IATA by the World Blind Union but it was not adopted.

GUIDELINES FOR SERVICE TO BLIND AIR TRAVELLERS


Blind air travellers are entitled to the same high quality service as all other passengers. Safety, dignity, and comfort are the watchwords for such service. Where adaptations to service prove necessary, care should be taken not to cause unnecessary stress or inconvenience.


GENERAL

1. Extent of Provisions

Under these guidelines the provisions recommended for blind persons are intended to apply equally and with the necessary adaptations to partially sighted persons, deafblind persons, and blind persons with additional disabilities.

2. Personnel Training

Airline personnel and ground staff should receive regular training in assistance to blind passengers.

3. Access to Information

Essential airline information should be made available in braille, and clearly legible print formats. Websites should be accessible to blind users.

4. Consultation

Airline policies and procedures that apply to blind passengers should be developed in consultation with organizations representative of blind people.

5. Offers of Help

The protocol should be to offer help where help appears necessary. If help is declined, the wish of the blind person should be respected.


IN THE AIR

6. Safety Instructions

Braille safety instructions should be made available to blind passengers. Such instructions should include a tactile diagram indicating emergency exits.

7. Verbal Briefing

The use of oxygen masks and flotation jackets are to be demonstrated to blind passengers. The location of the nearest emergency exit and of the nearest toilet are to be pointed out as well as the position of the call bell.

8. White Canes

Blind passengers are to be allowed to retain their white canes in the seating area. Canes should not be removed and stored in another part of the cabin.

9. Guide Dogs

Guide dogs accompanying blind passengers should be carried free of charge in the cabin, subject to the application of any relevant national or airline regulations. Blind persons travelling with guide dogs are to be allowed to settle the dog at their feet and preferably should be seated at a bulkhead or where there is extra space, unless otherwise requested. The dog should not be muzzled. If the flight exceeds two hours in duration water only should be offered to the dog. There should be no petting of the guide dog by airline personnel.

10. Independent Travel

There should be no barrier to blind persons travelling unaccompanied.

11. Meals and Duty Free

Meal service and duty free service should be offered to blind passengers in the same way and at the same time as to other passengers.

12. Menus

Meal menus should be read out to blind passengers prior to meal service.

13. Entertainment

Onboard entertainment systems should be accessible to blind passengers. Verbal briefings should be offered.

14. Surcharges

No extra charges are to be levied for services provided to blind passengers.


ON THE GROUND

15. Kerbside Assistance

Airlines should provide, on request, kerbside assistance to enable blind passengers to transfer from public conveyances or taxis to the check-in counter.

16. Boarding and Disembarking

Blind passengers should be assisted in a timely fashion and not be made to wait unduly.

17. Guide Dogs

Airlines should allow only guide dogs that have been trained by official guide dog training schools. Guide dogs should be wearing their recognized harnesses on arrival at the airport and be pre-booked.

18. Wheelchairs

It is not appropriate to offer a wheelchair to a blind passenger or to insist on its use.

19. Passenger Assistance Unit (PAU)

In general blind passengers prefer not to make use of the PAU and choose to board and disembark in the regular manner.

20. Interface between Airlines

Where blind passengers transfer from one airline to another, rules of responsibility should be clear at every stage. Blind passengers are to be carefully briefed on the arrangements that apply.

21. Stopovers and Delays

During stopovers and flight delays blind passengers should be given the opportunity to obtain refreshments and visit the toilet. It is preferable to be seated in a public lounge where staff are readily on hand.

22. Passports and Boarding Cards

Passports and boarding cards should be retained by blind passengers themselves and not be withheld by airport or airline personnel.

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