Air Canada Innovates to Make In-Flight Entertainment Systems Accessible for Vision-Impaired Customers
John Rae and Marcia Yale are pleased to have reached a settlement concerning a complaint they filed with the Canadian Human Rights Commission for passengers who are vision-impaired to more easily access Air Canada’s in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. Both Mr. Rae and Mrs. Yale are vision-impaired.
“The parties are delighted to have arrived at a settlement of this matter to ensure that persons with a vision impairment who travel on Air Canada’s flights can enjoy the In Flight Entertainment System,” said Mr. Rae.
“Air Canada has shown true leadership in this regard and we are very proud to have participated in the process,” added Mrs. Yale.
“To date, there are no suppliers of audio-visual, on demand, in-flight entertainment systems that are accessible for passengers with a vision impairment. We are extremely proud to have a creative and innovative team that was able to develop these solutions over the years. As technology evolves, we are hopeful that IFE systems manufacturers will follow our lead,” said Eric Lauzon, Manager – Multi-Media Entertainment at Air Canada. “Air Canada is committed to ensuring that future requests for proposals for in-flight entertainment systems will include the requirement that they be accessible for passengers who are vision-impaired.”
In 2009, Air Canada became the first airline to develop a template that could be placed over its seat back IFE screens in order to provide access to its Thales IFE audio system in use at the time.
Prior to the introduction beginning in 2014 of its new Boeing B-787 Dreamliner fleet, Air Canada undertook the adaptation of its new Panasonic IFE system to ensure the carrier’s IFE experience would be fully accessible across its entire Dreamliner fleet.
In 2015, Air Canada began retrofitting its existing Boeing B-777 fleet with the newly adapted Panasonic IFE system. The retrofit is now complete and will also be available on new Boeing B-777 aircraft on order.
As previously announced, Air Canada will renew its existing Airbus narrow-body fleet with new Boeing B-737 MAX aircraft, scheduled to begin delivery in 2017. The airline is in the process of choosing the supplier for the IFE system for these aircraft which will also be fully accessible for passengers who are vision-impaired.
Air Canada recently completed equipping its entire narrow-body North American fleet with on-board Wi-Fi, including the Embraer 175 and Bombardier CRA-900 fleets operated under the Air Canada Express banner, in order to offer all customers the convenience of purchasing and using Wi-Fi during their flight.