United Airlines becomes first U.S. carrier to add Braille to planes

United Airlines announced Thursday it will add Braille to the interiors of its planes, becoming first U.S. carrier to implement the signage.

The airline said it has about a dozen aircraft with Braille markings for individual rows, seat numbers and inside and outside lavatories. United said it expects to equip its entire mainline fleet with Braille by the end of 2026.

More than 27 million people with disabilities traveled by air in 2019, according to the Department of Transportation. Linda Jojo, executive vice president and chief customer officer for United, acknowledged the difficulties experienced by customers who are blind or have visual disabilities.

“Finding your seat on a plane or getting to the restroom is something most of us take for granted, but for millions of our customers, it can be a challenge to do independently,” she said in a statement. “By adding more tactile signage throughout our interiors, we’re making the flying experience more inclusive and accessible, and that’s good for everyone.”

Image of Braille markings for an individual row on an aircraft. / Credit: Hand-out

Image of Braille markings for an individual row on an aircraft. / Credit: Hand-out

United said it was working with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and other disability advocacy groups to implement other tactile navigational aids, including raised letters, numbers and arrows.

In a statement, NFP President Mark Riccobono commended United for making its aircraft “more accessible to blind passengers.”

“The flight experience is often frustrating for a number of reasons, one of which is the amount of information that is available exclusively through printed signs and other visual indicators,” Riccobono said. “We hope to continue working with United to explore additional ways to make flying more accessible and less stressful for blind passengers.”

Last month, a “first-of-its-kind” design was unveiled that would make airplanes more accessible for travelers who rely on electric-powered wheelchairs.

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