Virgin Australiahas become the first airline in the Asia Pacific and the second airline in the world to introduce an in-flight entertainment (IFE) user interface for passengers who are blind or have low vision.
Designed to make the customer experience more accessible for vision impaired passengers, the new interface increases accessibility to IFE content through simplified screen layouts, larger icons and voice prompts.
Developed by globally recognised IFE innovator CoKinetic Systems, the interface is available on Virgin Australia's entire fleet of Boeing 777-300ER aircraft which feature a seatback entertainment system and will be rolled out on the Airbus A330 fleet in the first half of 2017. The Boeing 777-300ER aircraft fly from Australia's east coast to Los Angeles, while the Airbus A330 primarily fly between Australia's east coast and Perth.
Virgin Australia General Manager, In Flight Experience, Tash Tobias said: "We are determined to ensure travel with Virgin Australia is enjoyable for all of our guests and we are delighted to introduce this new user interface for guests who are blind or have low vision.
"Throughout the development process we consulted with disability advocate, Phillip Chalker, to create a system that enables more passengers to enjoy movies, music, audiobooks and TV shows and we thank him for his invaluable assistance.
"This new technology also allows vision impaired guests to access important flight information such as the time and distance to their destination," Ms Tobias said.
Vision Australia General Manager for Advocacy and Engagement, Karen Knight said, "We congratulate Phillip on the outcome his advocacy efforts have helped achieve. In addition, we commend Virgin Australia for taking steps to improve the accessibility of their IFE system. Many people who are blind or have low vision enjoy travel and travel widely, and by Virgin Australia continuing to improve the accessibility of its IFE technology guests have the opportunity to enjoy the latest entertainment."
This feature is the latest addition in an ever increasing focus on accessible entertainment for all guests. Virgin Australia recently introduced a broader variety of assets suitable for hearing impaired guests with subtitled and closed-captioned movies and TV, a growing range of non-narrative documentaries and a handpicked collection of reading materials.
Virgin Australia's wireless IFE system is available on its Boeing 737-800 and Embraer E190 fleets, and is accessible to vision impaired guests via screen reader software available on guests' own devices.