Heathrow airport will invest over £30 million in new equipment and technology to improve accessibility services.
Heathrow is working with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to begin trials of Navilens technology in the spring. The Navilens app has an algorithm which detects markers and subsequently provides audible information to the user, helping to guide visually impaired passengers through the airport. See how it works in the video below.
Heathrow was rated “good” in the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)’s airport accessibility report last year, and hopes to achieve “very good” by 2022.
The airport’s other initiatives include the introduction of “sunflower lanyards” for passengers with hidden disabilities. This enables staff members to recognise individuals who may be in need of additional support. Passengers can request a lanyard by post before arriving at the airport.
To ensure that accessibility is at the forefront of the airport’s agenda, Heathrow has appointed disability campaigner Helen Dolphin MBE and experienced equality and inclusion regulator Keith Richards as co-chairs of the Heathrow Access Advisory Group (HAAG).
Geraldine Lundy, an accessible travel consultant, has been appointed vice-chair of the HAAG. Lundy previously worked at Virgin Atlantic, helping to introduce accessible in-flight entertainment and train colleagues to assist passengers with hidden disabilities..
Liz Hegarty, Heathrow Customer Relations and Service Director, commented:
“The new team are all very passionate about making Heathrow accessible and inclusive for all and their energy and expertise will prove invaluable for the airport and our passengers as Heathrow kickstarts its decade of delivery.”
Helen Dolphin MBE, Co-Chair of the HAAG added:
“This is a really exciting time to be working with Heathrow Airport as it embarks on another decade of investment for passengers of the airport. I’m passionate about ensuring disabled people have the same opportunities to fly as everyone else and ensuring Heathrow provides the best assistance service in the world.”
Read more about accessibility in aviation in our March issue of the magazine, and how hotels are attempting to better cater to guests with disabilities here.