The National Academies

ACRP 01-48 [Completed]

Assessing Airport Programs for Travelers with Disabilities and Older Adults

  Project Data
Funds: $500,000
Research Agency: IOS Partners, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Patricia Ryan
Effective Date: 5/4/2020
Completion Date: 11/3/2021

ACRP has undertaken several syntheses and research projects to identify and study ways airports provide assistance to older travelers and those with disabilities as they navigate through airports and use airport services. However, none of this research has conducted a systematic assessment of the effectiveness of these programs and services. Airports mainly depend on anecdotal evidence including lack of customer complaints and limited customer feedback to gauge the success of these programs and services. Research is needed that will address this gap by providing examples of best practices and evaluation tools. 
The objective of this research is to prepare a guidebook with assessment tools (to include a presentation and video) to help airports develop, monitor, and evaluate programs and services that improve the airport experience for travelers with disabilities and older adults. The guidebook will be developed for a variety of types and sizes of airports to utilize when considering new and evaluating existing programs and services. Considerations should include, at a minimum:  
  • The different types of disabilities (see Special Note A);
  • Demographics of airport users;
  • Digital accessibility (e.g., airport websites, smartphone apps, etc.);
  • Facility accessibility (e.g., restrooms, service animal relief areas, adult changing rooms);
  • Wayfinding (see Special Note B);
  • Ground transportation and access;
  • Outreach and education of disability groups, senior centers, and involvement of advocacy groups on services available at the airport;
  • A review of the airport’s executive commitment to accessibility (e.g., financial, operational and capital programs);
  • Wheelchair issues (e.g., space storage, labor implications, customer complaints);
  • Lessons learned to include general aviation airport applications;
  • The latest emerging technology solutions and their potential impact (both positive and negative) on older travelers and those with disabilities;
  • Volunteer airport programs; and 
  • The complete passenger journey to include pre-trip information, access to and within the airport, and arrival to destination (see Special Note B).
The final deliverables will include:
1. (a) A user-friendly guidebook and (b) a variety of assessment tools with examples to evaluate different aspects of the traveler experience for older travelers and those with disabilities that address the project objective; 
2. A presentation and a video to be used to disseminate and educate on the findings of this study throughout the airport industry; and
3. (a) A Summary of Key Findings and (b) a Further Recommended Research Memo;
A. Recognized disabilities are further defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) of 2008, as amended, and Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) 14 CFR Part 382. Hidden disabilities are those that cannot be directly identified through observation. They can include cognitive, chronic health, and psychological disabilities, amongst others.
B. The existing ACRP Project 01-40, “Evaluating the Traveler’s Perspective to Improve the Airport Customer Experience,” as well as ACRP Research Report 177: Enhancing Airport Wayfinding for Aging Travelers and Persons with Disabilities, along with other ACRP and non-ACRP related research, reports, and training programs that have been published or are ongoing should be considered, but not limited to, when conducting this research. Proposers should search TRB’s Website: https://www.trb.org/Projects/Projects2.aspx to identify other related research. 
C. The research should consider the ADA self-assessment form – FAA. 
D. Proposers should consider having team members with knowledge of multi-media/video expertise with a sample of prior work. 
E. The project documents must be compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. 794d), as amended by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-220), August 7, 1998. Resources are available at https://www.section508.gov/.
F. The Summary of Key Findings will be a stand-alone document. It should: (a) convey the most pertinent and applicable results of the project’s research; (b) be geared toward the airport industry practitioner while minimizing technical language; (c) present results using text and graphics as appropriate; and (d) encourage readers to explore the primary project deliverables. The Summary of Key Findings should be limited to no more than 4 pages.
G. The Further Recommended Research Memo will be a stand-alone document. It should: (a) Identify logical follow-on research that would benefit the industry yet was beyond the original scope and budget of the project; (b) describe how the proposed follow-on research relates to ACRP’s research roadmaps, if applicable; and (c) for the highest priority research needs, include research ideas and/or problem statements to be added to ACRP’s IdeaHub, the program’s online repository of research needs.
STATUS: The research is completed; publication process is underway.

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