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Inaccessible Kiosks: Airline Discriminates Blind Passengers

Inaccessible Kiosks: Airline Discriminates Blind Passengers

photo: flying plane  

United uses airport kiosks that employ touchscreen technology in a manner such that they cannot be used by blind passengers.

Passengers who are able to use the kiosks can access information about flights, check in for flights, print tickets and boarding passes, select seats, upgrade to United’s business or first class cabins, check baggage, and perform other transactions relevant to their air travel plans. The suit alleges that United is violating the California Disabled Persons Act and the Unruh Civil Rights Act because the services it provides through these kiosks are not available to blind passengers.

United could easily add an audio interface, a tactile keyboard, or interactive screen reader technology that works with touchscreens to its kiosks, as other companies have done.

Dr. Marc Maurer, President of the National Federation of the Blind, said: “The airline industry has an unfortunate history of discriminating against blind passengers, and now United Airlines is repeating that history by deploying inaccessible technology that we cannot use. United is engaging in this blatant discrimination even though the technology to make its kiosks accessible is readily available, has been deployed by others, and will involve little cost to the company.

Instead of enjoying the features and convenience of these kiosks, including a quicker and more convenient check-in process, blind passengers must wait in long lines at the ticket counter, even when they have already purchased their tickets and checked in online. We will not tolerate a separate and unequal experience for blind passengers and demand that United cease its discrimination against us as soon as practicable.”

Mike May, CEO of the Sendero Group, a leading manufacturer of technology for the blind, said: “I have been working in the adaptive technology field for twenty years, and I know well that it is easy and practical for United to make its kiosks accessible. There is simply no excuse for the long wait and inconvenience that other blind United passengers and I continue to experience at airports.”; Source: National Federation of the Blind

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