November 12, 2012
Advocates for the blind went toe-to-toe with United Airlines in the San Francisco 9th Circuit Court about what the airline could do to accommodate passengers unable to use check-in kiosks.
According to opposingviews.com, the National Federation of the Blind filed suit in October 2010 over United ticketing kiosks that lack audio output or other blind-welcoming alternatives, instead functioning exclusively by video and touchscreen navigation.
Federal regulations require that blind passengers either be assisted by airport personnel at the kiosks or be directed to the front of the line at the ticket counter, but the federation insisted at a hearing before a three-judge panel that United could modify its kiosks in the same way that there are now blind-accessible ATMs, the article reported.
“The airlines are waiting for there to be a consistent national standard for kiosks before spending millions of dollars,” John Nuechterlein, the Wilmer Hale attorney representing United Airlines, said. “In all these decisions, the agencies make extremely rigorous cost benefit analyses for technology they are going to impose on the airlines. The last thing the airlines want to do is invest millions of dollars in kiosk before finding out what the federal standard is.”