United Airlines has made a significant stride in enhancing the accessibility of air travel for passengers with visual disabilities, becoming the first U.S. airline to incorporate Braille into its aircraft interiors. This initiative aims to help millions of visually impaired travelers navigate the cabin independently.
The Department of Transportation reported that approximately 27 million individuals with disabilities used air travel in 2019. Recognizing the need for improved accessibility, United has already equipped a dozen aircraft with Braille markings for individual rows and seat numbers, as well as lavatory interiors and exteriors. The airline anticipates outfitting its entire mainline fleet with Braille by the end of 2026.
Linda Jojo, United’s Executive Vice President and Chief Customer Officer, highlighted the importance of this initiative, “We’re making the flying experience more inclusive and accessible, which is good for everyone.”
In conjunction with Braille, United is collaborating with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the American Council of the Blind (ACB), and other disability advocacy groups to investigate the application of other tactile navigational aids, such as raised letters, numbers, and arrows, throughout the cabin.
NFB President Mark Riccobono applauded United’s move, emphasizing the need for more accessible information for blind passengers. ACB Interim Executive Director Dan Spoone also praised the airline’s effort to enhance in-flight accessibility and urged other airlines to follow suit.
United has been recognized as a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion for eight consecutive years, reflecting its commitment to creating an inclusive environment for all its passengers and employees.
The airline’s steps towards accessibility extend beyond the aircraft cabin. Its mobile app has been redesigned to improve usability for those with visual impairments, while its Inflight Seatback Entertainment screens offer a range of accessible features. As part of its United Next growth plan, all new aircraft expected by the end of 2032 will incorporate the latest in seatback screen entertainment options.
Furthermore, United’s Bridge, a Business Resource Group, fosters a supportive workplace for people of all abilities. The airline’s partnership with the Special Olympics also provides employment opportunities to athletes and supports the organization through volunteering, fundraising, and travel assistance.