Designed in 2 Minutes?

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Access to information in airplanes

I recently was travelling from Birmingham to Brussels via Amsterdam with the Dutch company ‘KLM’ and was sat near an honourable gentleman who happened to be deaf. We try our best to entertain each other during the journey, communicating with signs and writing. What came out of our encounter is the fact that there are many things that we take for granted and when designing things we sometimes do it without fully considering the need of all the potential users. For example during the journey he obviously couldn’t heard the information given by the pilot such as the weather condition and some other details about the flight. It struck me for the first time as I have been travelling by plane for very long but I never really thought about that.

There are signs demonstrations to explain some safety issues, symbols to show where the buttons for lightning, calling a hostess and other, but there are no display for what is being said in the pilot’s cockpit for the passenger’s attention.

The tram between Birmingham and Wolverhampton is a good example that explains my point. In the tram there is a screen that displays information such as the station you are in and the next station; as well as displaying those information there is a vocal expression of the same information. If you are blind then you can heard them, and if you are deaf then you can read them.

People (disables) in some airplanes don’t enjoy all these privileges (access to all the information) offer during the flight and therefore do not fully benefit from their investment (price paid for the journey).


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