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Making In-flight Communication and Entertainment Accessible

Airlines are increasingly offering travelers the use of handheld or embedded media and communication systems. Many in flight entertainment systems (IFE) also allow passengers to independently access up-to-date flight information such as arrival times, information about connecting flights and gate changes.

This project developed solutions that can make in-flight communication and entertainment systems accessible to people with sensory disabilities. Partners include the World Airline Entertainment Association, Panasonic Avionics Corporation, and the National Center on Accessible Transportation at Oregon State University. Caesar Eghtesadi, president of Tech For All and an expert in accessible technologies, acted as project manager for NCAM.

Solutions and resulting recommendations include the integration of captioning for video and audio, descriptive narration for visual images and audio navigation for system menus and interface design. Project activities, now completed, include:
  • researching technical solutions, procedures and practices required to infuse access considerations into in-flight hardware, digital content management systems, interactive and display systems, connectivity and content.
  • development of a demonstration model using a state-of-the-art IFE system that prototypes in-flight system support of user-selectable captions, audio description and talking menus.
  • participation in World Airline Entertainment Association technical committees and working groups and promote the adoption/inclusion of standard accessibility metadata models into new and existing standards developed by those groups.
  • publish a White Paper outlining the functional requirements of an accessible IFE system.
A graphic rendering of a menu screen which includes an Accessibility options button. This screen was used in the prototype IFE system used for testing with consumers in the summer of 2008.

IFE main menu

A graphic rendering of the accessibility options page, one level down.

IFE accessibility options