United Airlines to introduce Braille across entire fleet by 2026

Visually impaired passengers will be able to find rows, seats and toilets more easily on more than 900 planes

Nice touch: United Airlines is working with charities for the blind to roll out Braille on its planes. Photo: United Airlines
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United Airlines will include Braille throughout its fleet to help visually impaired passengers.

United announced that by 2026, more than 900 planes will be fitted with Braille – making it the first US airline to do so. To date, about a dozen of its aircraft have been updated, helping passengers identify seat rows, numbers and toilets.

“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 so independently,” said Linda Jojo, United Airlines' executive vice president and chief customer officer.

The installation of Braille is part of an ongoing collaboration with the American Council of the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind.

Approximately 8 per cent of Americans have some sort of sight loss and the move is heralded as a major step towards making travel more accessible to everyone. Braille will be retrofitted to the carrier's existing aircraft, as well as being added to the fleet of new orders.

“By adding more tactile signage throughout our interiors, we’re making the flying experience more inclusive and accessible, and that’s good for everyone," said Jojo.

Mark Riccobono, president of the National Federation of the Blind, welcomed the move. "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," he said.

"We hope to continue working with United to explore additional ways to make flying more accessible and less stressful for blind passengers."

In addition to Braille, United Airlines will also upgrade its in-flight entertainment system to include closed captioning and audio description, as well as text-to-speech controls and improved touch capabilities.

In 2020, the airline redesigned its mobile app to include screen reader technologies VoiceOver and TalkBack, and streamlined it to make it simpler to read for those with sight issues.

Updated: July 28, 2023, 7:29 AM