The National Academies

ACRP 01-31 [Completed]

Innovative Solutions to Facilitate Accessibility for Airport Travelers with Disabilities

  Project Data
Funds: $350,000
Research Agency: Open Doors Organization
Principal Investigator: Laurel Van Horn
Effective Date: 6/16/2016
Completion Date: 4/15/2019

Airports strive to make their facilities more user-friendly by going beyond compliance to respond to the changing demographics and unique needs of the 21st century traveler.  
Since airline deregulation, air transportation has become a more affordable option for all types of travelers. In addition, travelers have become more independent and willing to travel regardless of age, disability or limitations in mobility. The airport industry has adopted specific design codes in response to state and federal regulatory requirements including The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to accommodate employees and travelers with disabilities. These design codes include general architectural guidelines and technology adapted for transportation facilities. Airports need guidance on current and potential innovations, technologies, business practices, and partnerships with stakeholders to better address the needs of passengers who have a variety of physical, sensory and/or cognitive challenges.
The objective of this research is to provide guidance and information to airports and their stakeholders on the availability of innovative solutions to facilitate accessibility for passengers who have a variety of physical, sensory and/or cognitive challenges. This guidance shall be applicable to a variety of types and sizes of airports and shall include at a minimum, the following considerations:
  • Leveraging innovation (digital or physical) at passenger touchpoints and throughout the course of the journey, including at remote terminals;
  • Issues related to physical facility layout (i.e., distance, time, physical and sensory obstacles, including access to and accommodations for service animals);
  • Enhancements to existing airport physical and IT assets to improve accessibility and the passenger experience;  
  • Innovative resources and communication methods needed during irregular operations (IROPS);
  • Needs of the inexperienced passenger;
  • Methods to allow continual process improvement among stakeholders; and   
  • Possible impediments to implementation (e.g., legal, regulatory and safety issues).  
The ACRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are asked to develop and include a detailed research plan for accomplishing the project objective.  Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers' current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective. The work proposed must be divided into tasks and proposers must describe the work proposed in each task in detail. The research plan should include appropriate deliverables that require ACRP approval, including at a minimum: (1) recommendations for a variety of potential case studies to be conducted that include best practices for innovative solutions in other industries, as well as airports; (2) a plan to determine the research gaps, acquire any necessary data, and understand how the data can advance the development of innovative solutions; and (3) an interim report that describes work done in early tasks, and a draft outline of the final guidance document with an updated work plan for remaining tasks. The research plan should build in other appropriate checkpoints with the ACRP panel, including at a minimum (1) a kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the Notice to Proceed and (2) one face-to-face interim report review meeting, as well as web-enabled teleconferences tied to the panel review and ACRP approval of other interim deliverables deemed appropriate. The final deliverables will include: (1) a guidance document that includes innovative solutions categorized in a logical manner and incorporates criteria such as passenger acceptance and ease of implementation; and (2) a stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”.
STATUS:  The research is completed, Editorial review is underway. 

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