Virgin Atlantic to roll out portable IFE solution for visually impaired passengers


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From 1 December, the new accessible IFE solution will be available across Virgin Atlantic's full fleet of aircraft.

Virgin Atlantic is rolling out an accessible in-flight entertainment (IFE) solution that has been developed especially for passengers with visual impairments. From 1 December 2017, the solution will be available across the carrier’s entire fleet.

The portable IFE product has been developed by Bluebox Aviation Systems with input from Virgin Atlantic and representatives from The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (Guide Dogs). The charity introduced the airline and Bluebox to a group of individuals with a range of visual impairments, ranging from partial sight loss to total blindness. This group provided input and feedback throughout the development process.

The result is an iPad-based IFE solution that includes controls and menus that are easy to detect and navigate, support in multiple languages, closed captions and audio-described content.

Mark Anderson, Executive Vice President – Customer, Virgin Atlantic, said: “Nearly 30 years ago, Virgin Atlantic was the first airline to offer seat back entertainment in all cabins, so it’s apt that we should be the first to ensure our entertainment is fully accessible across all flights. 

“Working with Bluebox and Guide Dogs we’ve been able to create a world first that ensures customers with sight loss can experience the full range of onboard entertainment including the latest blockbusters, TV shows and albums.”

James Macrae, CTO, Bluebox Aviation Systems Ltd and a contributor to APEX’s IFE Accessibility Working Group, commented: “We distilled the most critical elements of our Bluebox Ai IFE platform into a simple design that someone with sight loss can easily and consistently navigate, enriching this with additional background functionality.

“For example, rather than using a traditional screen reader function to read out on-screen text, information like film synopses are read out after a single tap of the film title. By putting these in the background, we kept the interface uncluttered and simple to navigate, but still providing information to help the passenger choose their selection.”