Brisbane Airport breaking down barriers for travellers with disabilities

Brisbane Airport (BNE) is the first airport in Australia to open a dedicated ‘Changing Places’ facility for passengers with special needs.

Located on the central ground floor area of BNE’s busy Domestic Terminal (near Qantas Baggage carousel 3), the ‘Changing Places’ facility was officially opened this morning by The Hon. Jane Prentice Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services.

Plans for the opening of a second ‘Changing Places’ facility at Brisbane’s International Terminal in the new year are well underway.

Changing Places facilities are different from standard accessible bathroom amenities, providing additional space and specialised equipment such as an adult change table, hoist and toilet fitted with movable handrails for the use of people with severe disabilities and their personal carer providers.

Stephen Goodwin, Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) Acting CEO said the opening of ‘Changing Places’ facility at Brisbane Airport would support many thousands of people with disabilities and their families who find it otherwise difficult to travel due to a lack of access to specialised amenities.

“There are many people who live with serious and profound disabilities who require particular facilities for personal care and, unfortunately, standard accessible bathrooms do not cater to their needs. This can be a major barrier to travel for a lot of people and this was a barrier we wanted to remove.

“It’s not just catering for a specific disability, we are focused on an ‘access for all’ approach and have a team dedicated to ensuring we are not only meeting the regulations and legislation surrounding disability access, but exceeding them.

“This includes retrofitting existing buildings with facilities like we’re opening today and making sure all upgrades and new developments improve access and the overall airport experience for people with special needs.

“We also work very closely with many organisations representing the interests of various disability groups to make sure we get it right,” Mr Goodwin said.

The Hon. Jane Prentice MP congratulated BAC on their achievements to ensure social inclusion and accessibility.

“The ‘Changing Places’ facility is an excellent demonstration of what can be achieved when whole communities work together to address the challenges faced by people with disability every day,” Mrs Prentice said.

Eddie Chapman, CEO of the Association for Children with a Disability which supports Changing Places, said although the Changing Places facility is not yet a regulatory requirement, it will give Brisbane Airport a world renowned accessible facility for those travelling with or caring for someone with a severe disability.

“Brisbane Airport has led the way in terms of not only making the airport accessible for those with higher care needs, but by doing so also opens up the City of Brisbane to individuals and families with disabilities from other states. This is the sort of mainstream inclusion that we should expect of all our public facilities.”

To date Brisbane Airport has invested more than $3 million in the last five years implementing its extensive Disability Access Management Plan in addition to the funding for DDA compliance incorporated into other major projects.

Other key ‘Access for All’ initiatives underway or introduced at Brisbane Airport include:

Development of Brisbane Airport’s Accessibility Journey Planner which is due for release later this year

Completion of an Access Audit Program across both terminals by an accredited access consultant who provided recommendations.

Completion of a number of accessibility remediation projects including upgrading of public stairs, Tactile Ground Surface Indicators (TGSI’s) to escalators and travelators, lift upgrades and way-finding.

In collaboration with QUT-based Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration: Carers and Consumers (DCRC-CC)developing a step by step guide - Ensuring a Smooth Journey: A Guide to Brisbane Airport for people living with Dementia and their Travel Companions – an action plan and resources kit for airport staff to improve the experience of air travel for people with dementia. Through this program Brisbane Airport was the first airport in Australia to be recognised by Alzheimer’s Australia as an approved Dementia Friendly organisation.

In 2014, opening Australia’s first dedicated airport Assistance Animals ‘bathrooms’ in the International and Domestic Terminals.

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Dublin Airport Wins European Accessibility Award

Image above: Dublin Airport Managing Director, Vincent Harrison accepting the Accessible Airport Award from Yannis Yallouros, European Disability Forum's Executive Committee.


Dublin Named Best Airport in Europe for Accessibility at ACI EUROPE Awards

Dublin Airport has won a major European award for the way in which it deals with disabled passengers and those travelling with reduced mobility.

Dublin Airport won the inaugural Accessible Airport Award at ACI EUROPE’s Best Airport Awards in Athens last night. Separately Dublin Airport was also short-listed in the best large airport category, which was won by Heathrow Airport.

“We are absolutely delighted to win this prestigious award for accessibility ahead of all our European peers,” said Dublin Airport Managing Director Vincent Harrison. “This award recognises the significant efforts that the Dublin Airport team makes on a daily basis to ensure that disabled passengers and those with reduced mobility have the best possible airport experience. Winning this prize is a major endorsement for what we have achieved in this area to date and will encourage us to continue to improve the service that we offer to our disabled customers and to travellers with reduced mobility.”

The judges for the award found that Dublin Airport “excels in accessibility features and facilities, including adult changing places, two separate relief areas for guide dogs, fully accessible retail and catering areas” and had service level agreements for assistance provision that exceed the European standards. The judges also cited Dublin Airport’s website accessibility, which meets the required accessibility standards for persons with disabilities.

“This is Dublin Airport’s second major customer-related award in just four months, which underscores our focus on ensuring that all our passengers have the best possible experience when they use the airport,” Mr Harrison said. Earlier this year Dublin Airport was rated number one for passenger experience ahead all other European airports of a similar size in the 2015 ACI Airport Service Quality survey.

 “As passenger numbers increase, we intend to continue to enhance the passenger experience for all customers. We are currently investing €10 million to upgrade the arrivals area in Terminal 1 and we also have recently installed new automatic tray return systems at passenger screening to help make this process more efficient.”

The Accessible Airport Award was introduced by ACI Europe this year to mark the 10th anniversary of the adoption of Regulation (EC) 1107/2006 which relates to the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air.

ACI EUROPE partnered with the European Disability Forum (EDF) to present the new award. As well as rewarding the best airport in Europe for accessibility the award was also designed to encourage other European airports to continue their work on removing the barriers that people with disabilities and people with reduced mobility still face when travelling by air.

The judging panel for the Accessible Airport Award comprised members of the European Disability Forum’s Executive Committee as well as Fotis Karamitsos, Acting Deputy Director-General for Mobility and Transport; Coordination of Directorates C and D, in the European Commission.

The Accessible Airport Award was presented to Dublin Airport Managing Director Vincent Harrison at a gala dinner in Athens last night by Yannis Yallouros, who is a member of the European Disability Forum’s Executive Committee.

Dublin Airport is Ireland’s key international gateway, accounting for 82% of all air passengers into and out of the State. Last year Dublin Airport celebrated its 75th birthday by setting a new a new all-time record for traffic, as it welcomed more than 25 million passengers.  So far this year, passenger numbers are up 14% to almost 10.3 million. Dublin Airport has direct flights to over 180 destinations in 40 countries on four continents, and will welcome 16 new services this year.

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SWISS website now accessible to all

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) makes its air travel services as available to its customers as it possibly can. This policy applies to all its online facilities, too: the core functions of the website have now been made fully accessible to blind and visually impaired users or customers with other physical disabilities. SWISS has thus extended the accessibility of its services at the airport and inflight to its online platform, too.

The core functions of the website have been comprehensively overhauled to make them accessible to all. As a result, blind and visually impaired users and those with other physical disabilities can now easily book, rebook or check in for their flights online. The blind and visually impaired, for instance, can use screen reader software to have text read aloud to them, and can navigate the site more easily via their keyboard entries.

The fully accessible part of the website already meets the AA standard of Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. And the entire site should meet this standard by the end of 2016.

The revised website further expands SWISS’s range of services for customers with restricted mobility. On the ground, specially trained staff continue to be available to provide these travellers with the additional care they need. SWISS offers escorts for both departing and arriving travellers, along with the free use at the airport of wheelchairs and transport vehicles.

Travellers with restricted mobility are also invited to board and deplane before other passengers; and up to two wheelchairs and an assistance dog will be transported free of charge. SWISS also provides a wheelchair on board on all its long-haul flights and (on request) for its short-haul services, too. And SWISS cabin personnel are sensitized to the special needs of travellers with restricted mobility, to ensure that they are offered optimum care and assistance throughout their time aboard.

For further details of SWISS’s special services for travellers with restricted mobility please visit.


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Indoor Service Animal/Pet Relief Room Opens at O'Hare International Airport

CHICAGO, October 20, 2015 - The Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) announces the opening of an indoor service animal/pet relief room at O'Hare International Airport.

Located past security checkpoints in the Rotunda area of Terminal 3, the room is specially designed to accommodate passengers traveling with service animals or pets. It is particularly convenient for those with layovers/connecting flights at O'Hare. It will enhance the traveling experience for individuals with disabilities because they no longer need to pass back through security to relieve their service animal.

The recently-opened indoor service animal/pet relief room at O'Hare is located just north of the Rotunda in Terminal 3.

The room has two, 2-foot by 4-foot pet relief areas complete with artificial grass covering, miniature fire hydrants and pop-up sprinkler systems to wash away liquid waste into a drain. In addition, a mounted hose bib and reel is available for manual spraying and plastic bags are provided for clean-up. The room is enclosed, has a door with a glass pane that opens and closes automatically, and is designed for wheelchair access. The room also includes two sinks for passenger use.

"We are pleased to offer this new amenity for passengers, especially those who depend on the assistance of service animals when they travel through our airport," said CDA Commissioner Ginger S. Evans. "This is another way we are making O'Hare International Airport more accessible to the traveling public and creating a more welcoming environment for visitors to Chicago."

The room features two pet relief areas with hydrants, and plastic bags, sinks and a hose for clean up.

The CDA coordinated with the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) to ensure the room is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.

The room features two pet relief areas with hydrants, and plastic bags, sinks and a hose for clean up.

"The new indoor animal relief area located in the secured terminal of O'Hare International Airport will enhance the traveling experience for individuals with service animals, particularly those with connecting flights," said MOPD Commissioner Karen Tamley. "This feature is another step towards our goal of making Chicago a world class accessible city for people with disabilities."

In addition to the new airside animal relief room, there are three outdoor service animal/ pet relief areas located near the lower level curb front of Terminals 1, 2 and 5. The Terminal 1 and 5 outdoor locations were opened in 2009 and the Terminal 2 location was added in 2014. Midway International Airport also has an outdoor service animal and pet relief area located near the lower level curb front at the north end of the terminal that opened in 2009.

Real grass, gravel or wood chips are used inside the fenced-in areas and plastic bags and garbage cans are provided. CDA and custodial staff monitor the areas throughout the day to ensure cleanliness.

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