This month the CAA announced their new guidelines to British Airports in relation to their disabled passengers, including those with hidden disabilities. (Document CAP1411)
To quote from the Introduction:
“A disabled person and person with reduced mobility is defined in the Regulation as “any person whose mobility when using air transport is reduced due to any physical disability (sensory or locomotor, permanent or temporary), intellectual disability or impairment, or any other cause of disability, or age”. It is the CAA’s view, based on engagement with disability organisations, that ‘hidden disabilities’ should be considered to include, but not be limited to, dementia, autism, learning disabilities, anxiety issues, mental health conditions, visual impairments and hearing loss.
The company behind the multi award winning RoomMate, ADi Access, have been meeting with and speaking to a number of airports around the UK.
The RoomMate is an electronic, wall-mounted device, which offers Blind and Visually Impaired visitors bespoke audio description in a disabled access toilet. Each unit also comes complete with a high visibility door sign to indicate that the facility has an ADi RoomMate installed. The first of these revolutionary devices being installed in St Mary’s Airport on The Isles of Scilly.
Russ Schild, Airport and Air Traffic Services Manager at St Mary’s Airport, said:
“I tried both out yesterday evening and they are great I must say.”
Passengers this morning were trying them out of curiosity and gave great compliments too.”
The RoomMate is the first of a series of devices that uses a patented (pending) technique to provide an audio description to help visually impaired users interact with more confidence in unknown environments and has been designed, initially, to describe disabled access toilets.
With no two toilets the same, each RoomMate is customised to its own facility and with no requirements on behalf of the user; a key, phone or other interface, remains inclusive to all. Further variants, including a portable solution for hotels and events, are planned for launch in 2017.
Managing Director of ADi Access, Helen Kemp, explains:
“The RoomMate is officially designated as an ‘auxiliary aid’ and is a giant step forward for blind people under the Equality Act 2010. With the CAA’s new guidelines bringing the plight of many disabled passengers into the public consciousness we are confident that more airports will see that attracting customers and users from an often forgotten section of our society is easier than they previously would have suspected.”
The Visit Britain forecast for 2017 is for 38.1 million visits, an increase of 4.0% on 2016; and £24.1 billion in visitor spending, an increase of 8.1% on 2016. Although we don’t know exactly how many will have Disabilities we do know that the more help there is for them in the Terminals, especially when using the facilities, the better.” (Source: Visit Britain)
The company are currently talking to a number of airports throughout the UK, including Heathrow, Glasgow and Bristol airport. With these talks is the confidence that the RoomMate will be installed in these airports and many more to provide a solution for visually impaired air travel passengers for many years to come.
The RoomMate has also been installed in other locations in the UK, including charities, hospitals and tourist attractions, with the hope to expand and reach more locations in future. To find a RoomMate near you and more information about ADi Access, visit www.adiaccess.co.uk.