DGCA Told To Make Travel Websites Accessible For Visually Impaired

The Court of the Chief Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) has ordered the aviation regulator to ensure that airline and travel portal websites are made accessible to visually impaired individuals
Several organisations in the travel and hospitality sector have introduced measures to make spaces accessible to people with disabilities
Several organisations in the travel and hospitality sector have introduced measures to make spaces accessible to people with disabilitiesKhunkorn Studio/Shutterstock

According to the United Nations, there are over 1 billion people with disabilities worldwide. Several organisations in the travel and hospitality sector have introduced measures to make spaces and services more accessible to people with disabilities. However, while this segment represents a significant potential market for travel and tourism, it is still severely underserved due to inadequate facilities and services, as well as discriminatory rules and practices. Some countries have implemented various measures to help with accessibility and make travel easier for those with disabilities. However, a lot needs to be done. As a measure to counter this, the court overseeing the rights of people with disabilities has directed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to make airline and travel gateway websites accessible to those who are visually impaired.

The Court of the Chief Commissioner of Persons with Disabilities (CCPD) was responding to a complaint about severe accessibility issues faced by people with disabilities while trying to navigate the aviation sector. One of these issues centred around the accessibility concerns on airline and travel agent websites. The court highlighted that websites of airlines and travel agents do not comply with the accessibility criteria as outlined under the DGCA's 2014 regulations. As a result, people with total blindness are unable to book tickets independently.

The complaint also mentioned the lack of adequate awareness among call centre staff about what was needed to assist passengers with impairments. This along with the limited alternatives offered on online reservation forms presents further barriers for those with visual disabilities.

According to report proceedings, the Court of Chief Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities has said, “If the travel agents fail to do so, then the DGCA shall not allow them to sell air tickets on any websites throughout the country. The DGCA should also levy fines for non-compliance by the airlines or the travel agents.”

Accessibility In Tourism

According to the United Nations, accessible tourism allows everyone to engage in and enjoy tourism activities. More people have access needs, whether they are connected to a physical condition. For example, elderly and less mobile people have access requirements, which can be a significant barrier when travelling or sightseeing.

Thus, accessible tourism refers to the constant effort to make tourist locations, products, and services accessible to all individuals, regardless of physical limits, impairments, or age. In order to ensure that accessible tourism is developed in a sustainable manner, tourist destinations must move beyond ad hoc services and adopt the universal design principle, which ensures that all people, regardless of physical or cognitive needs, can use and enjoy the available amenities in an equitable and sustainable manner. Read more about the UN guidelines here.

Braille To Help Navigate And Explore Spaces

Countries are implementing a variety of strategies to make travel accessible to everyone. Braille, and other tactile props, are being used to increase accessibility and reduce barriers to travel. For instance, Braille guides at railway stations and airports, and at monuments.

Several states in India are trying to make festivals more accessible to people with disabilities.

Indian Railways has introduced Braille signs and maps at several railway stations. Braille navigation maps have been installed at Dehradun, Coimbatore, Bhopal, Chennai, and Egmore stations. These help the visually impaired to navigate stations, access ticket counters, toilets, drinking water taps, waiting rooms, and more. 

Information about monuments in the Braille script has been put up at several monuments and public spaces in Delhi. For instance, at the Safdarjung Tomb, and the Old Fort complex. These are special tactile maps that the blind can touch-sense and get to know the location of the various places around. In the Lodi Road area, there are special walls with tactile miniature monuments carved on them which the visually impaired can touch and know about the shape of the monuments.

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