Today I received a media release from Virgin Australia about an exciting development in their in-flight entertainment. The aim is to improve the flying experience for passengers who are blind or have low vision. It’s fantastic to see this initiative and I hope other airlines take notice. I know there’s still a long way to go with accessible tourism but the changes which have happened over BJ’s lifetime are encouraging and I look forward to seeing this momentum continue.
I’m sharing the entire media release because I think this story further proves my theory that it takes one person to bring about change. One person with an idea, a passion to see it through and of course a receptive business or organisation who can bring that vision to life. Thankfully Phillip Chalker, a disability advocate, had an idea and Virgin Australia listened.
You can read the full story here –
“Virgin Australia has become the first airline in the Asia Pacific and the second airline in the world to introduce an in-flight entertainment (IFE) user interface for passengers who are blind or have low vision.
Designed to make the customer experience more accessible for vision impaired passengers, the new interface increases accessibility to IFE content through simplified screen layouts, larger icons and voice prompts.
Developed by globally recognised IFE innovator CoKinetic Systems, the interface is available on
Virgin Australia’s entire fleet of Boeing 777-300ER aircraft which feature a seatback entertainment system and will be rolled out on the Airbus A330 fleet in the first half of 2017. The Boeing 777300ER aircraft fly from Australia’s east coast to Los Angeles, while the Airbus A330 primarily fly between Australia’s east coast and Perth.
Virgin Australia General Manager, In Flight Experience, Tash Tobias said: “We are determined to ensure travel with Virgin Australia is enjoyable for all of our guests and we are delighted to introduce this new user interface for guests who are blind or have low vision.
“Throughout the development process we consulted with disability advocate, Phillip Chalker, to create a system that enables more passengers to enjoy movies, music, audiobooks and TV shows and we thank him for his invaluable assistance.
“This new technology also allows vision impaired guests to access important flight information such as the time and distance to their destination,” Ms Tobias said.
Vision Australia General Manager for Advocacy and Engagement, Karen Knight said, “We congratulate Phillip on the outcome his advocacy efforts have helped achieve. In addition, we commend Virgin Australia for taking steps to improve the accessibility of their IFE system. Many people who are blind or have low vision enjoy travel and travel widely, and by Virgin Australia continuing to improve the accessibility of its IFE technology guests have the opportunity to enjoy the latest entertainment.”
This feature is the latest addition in an ever increasing focus on accessible entertainment for all guests. Virgin Australia recently introduced a broader variety of assets suitable for hearing impaired guests with subtitled and closed-captioned movies and TV, a growing range of nonnarrative documentaries and a handpicked collection of reading materials.
Virgin Australia’s wireless IFE system is available on its Boeing 737-800 and Embraer E190 fleets, and is accessible to vision impaired guests via screen reader software available on guests’ own devices.”
And the good news doesn’t end there. This month, Virgin Australia have announced the new software on the front of their inflight magazine Voyeur in Braille. How great is that?
Pity the Virgin website doesn’t work with screen readers. It somewhat takes the gloss off what is an otherwise fine achievement.
I’ll pass this feedback on to Virgin. It sounds as though they are keen to make their service as accessible as possible. Julie