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13 Jun 2018

BY James Chapple

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UK airports making 'significant' progress on disability access

Airports have made “significant” progress improving facilities to support disabled passengers, particularly those with hidden disabilities, the CAA has said.

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UK airports making 'significant' progress on disability access

In August 2016, the CAA assessed 30 UK airports on their efforts to support passengers with disabilities or reduced mobility.


While 17 were rated good or very good, 12 - including Heathrow - were found to be still ”taking steps” to achieve at least good performance. Edinburgh was the only airport of the 30 to be rated poor.


The CAA issued new guidance in December 2016 on how airports can, and should, support the record numbers of disabled or reduced mobility passengers who pass through UK airports every year, thought to be around three million.


Key steps included providing airport staff, including security staff, hidden disability awareness and communication training, providing disabled passengers clearer information before travel to allow them to familiarise themselves with the airport through videos, photos and diagrams, and offering people with hidden disabilities a lanyard so they can be more easily identified.


Introducing quiet areas and routes to reduce stress and disorientation, better signposting key services such as toilets and assistant points with clearer pictorial or audible messages, and introducing familiarisation visits or open days for disabled passengers prior to travel were among other suggestions.


A new CAA report has now found all 30 airports assessed two years ago have held hidden disability training for staff, consulted with disability organisations, introduced optional identification schemes for passengers with hidden disabilities, introduced familiarisation visits and pledged not to separate disabled or reduced mobility passengers from their companions, while all but two had provided new video and/or online guidance.


The CAA though has said further work still needs to be done and has pledged to continue working with airports and disability groups on the issue.


Matt Buffey, CAA head of consumer protection, said: “Record numbers of passengers with disabilities are travelling through UK airports so its hugely important assistance meets their particular needs.


“We know people with hidden disabilities can find airports difficult and stressful places, in particular the security search, and we are pleased to see how well airports have responded in improving the assistance they offer and tailoring to the needs of people with hidden disabilities.”

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