Virgin Atlantic has become the first international carrier to announce a partnership with Guide Dogs that will deliver a completely accessible in-flight entertainment service for passengers with vision impairment. The technology will be installed across the airline’s entire fleet which flies to destinations in North America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. In-flight entertainment has come a long way since the days when there used to be a single screen at the front of the cabin. Now airlines have installed seat back touch screen entertainment instead.
New technology developed
Whilst such innovation has been great for passengers with no sight issues, it still remains a barrier for passengers who are partially sighted because they find it difficult to navigate the system. As a result, Virgin Atlantic has pioneered a new technology that will allow vision impaired passengers to take advantage of its entire suite of in-flight entertainment using specially modified iPads. The airline worked with Blue Box Aviation Systems to develop the iPad-based platform which was tested by representatives from Guide Dogs. The technology uses audio descriptions, large fonts and a consistent control layout.
Guide Dogs provided recommendations
The two companies worked closely with partially sighted individuals who helped with the development of the special equipment and offered insight in to the different types of visually impaired people that could benefit. This included people who are totally blind, partially blind or have a sensitivity to blindness. Guide Dogs representatives also provided recommendations for the system’s design which took a year of intensive testing to ensure the final product met their needs.
New system allows the visually impaired to have a better travel experience
John Welsman a spokesman for Guide Dogs says his organisation is acutely aware that something as simple as an in-flight entertainment system that comes with audio descriptions and voice overs will allow passengers who are visually impaired to have a better travel experience. Mr Welsman who himself is visually impaired and travels frequently says the development is wonderful because he can access entertainment and information on Virgin Atlantic flights without having to ask for help. He adds that Guide Dogs is always striving to ensure that people who are visually impaired are not left out of life. As a result, the organisation is thrilled that Virgin Atlantic has made the effort to cater to visually impaired passengers, allowing them to be more independent whilst they are flying by providing accessible in-flight entertainment.
Virgin Atlantic first airline to cater to the visually impaired
Mark Anderson an Executive Vice President with Virgin Atlantic says its been almost three decades since the carrier became the first airline to offer seat back entertainment across all cabins. As a result, it is extremely apt that Virgin Atlantic is also the first airline to ensure its entertainment offering is fully accessible to all passengers across all flights. He adds that working with Bluebox and Guide Dogs has enabled the airline to be the first carrier to ensure visually impaired passengers can experience the full range of in-flight entertainment including the latest blockbusters, television shows and music.