Under the United States Department of Transportation (DOT), the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) was established in 1986 to ensure that United States and foreign air carries do not discriminate against people on the basis of disability. Recently, the DOT has made new implementations to the act for continued accessibility in the airline industry.
New Implementations to the ACAA
In November 2013, the Department of Transportation implemented new changes to the Air Carrier Access Act. The ACAA prohibits discrimination by airlines on the basis of disability. Through the implemented changes, DOT is striving to provide equal access for people with disabilities. Since 1986, the dissemination of airline and flight information has drastically evolved into an online format and the DOT is implementing the ACAA to accommodate the way in which consumers access their information and how airlines present their information.
The 2015 ODO study quantifies how much adults with disabilities spend on just their own travel—$17.3 billion annually, up from $13.6 billion in 2002. Since these individuals typically travel with one or more other adults, the economic impact is actually double, or $34.6 billion. - Open Doors Organization
In their commitment to making flying easier and more accessible to people with disabilities the Department of Transportation is requiring airlines to make their automated kiosks and websites fully accessible. To make their websites accessible to people with disabilities, the ACAA requires airlines to follow the standards in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Success Criteria, Conformance Requirement Level AA. Level AA encompasses both the requirements in Level A and Level AA.
Complying with the ACAA
United States based airlines must comply with the ACAA regulations to have their websites accessible to all. Foreign airlines that have established marketing campaigns in the United States and/or offer services in the United States are also subject to the ACAA. For example, if a foreign airline utilizes English to describe their services and/or displays pricing using USD, they must comply with the ACAA. It has been reported that Chinese based airlines are already making their websites compliant with DOT's new WCAG 2.0 regulations.
The Department of Transportation is implementing the new regulations to ensure all people have the same access to airlines website deals and promotions. If an airline has not met the WCAG 2.0 Level AA requirements, they must offer the same deals, promotions, and web-based fares available to people who call to make reservations and pay because they have encounter barriers on the airline's website.
ACAA Dates and Deadlines
The new implementations came to pass in November 2013. With certain deadlines having passed, others are approaching that are required in order for airlines to become compliant.
- Kiosks installed after 2016 must be accessible to people with disabilities (until 25% of the kiosks are fully accessible).
- By November 2015, airlines must have the main functions of their websites compliant with WCAG 2.0 level AA. This includes their frequent flyer and booking accounts, ticketing, reservations, and check in websites accessible.
- By November 2016, all website pages must be accessible.
Accessibility with AudioEye
At AudioEye, we go further than any solution provider in the industry to reduce risk of non-compliance. From testing and fixing issues of accessibility to maintaining conformance and supplying end users with free assistive tools to customize their user experience, AudioEye delivers the most complete Web Accessibility solution. Learn more about the AudioEye approach to accessibility.
Looking to comply with ACAA? Need help with WCAG? Looking for Manual Testing and Web Accessibility Auditing? Contact AudioEye for a free guidance discussion
TNOOZ, July 15, 2016
Airlines websites fall short as DOT accessibility deadline approaches
U.S. Department of Transportation, November 12, 2013
Federal Register, Nondiscrimination on Basis of Disability in Air Travel: Accessibility of Web Sites and Automated Kiosks at U.S. Airports... [PDF]
U.S. Department of Transportation
New DOT Rules Make Flying Easier for Passengers with Disabilities