British Airways improves accessibility for hard-of-hearing passengers

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British Airways has announced that it plans to make a raft of changes to improve its accessibility for its hard-of-hearing passengers.  

The airline has partnered with Signcode UK to further improve its accessibility offering for Deaf and hard-of-hearing customers. Changes being implemented include new signed video content containing various helpful travel information being made available to customers both pre-travel and while onboard. 

Signcode UK is an organization that campaigns to ensure equal access to information, products, and services for the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community. It specializes in translating critical information into signed videos.  

As part of the airline’s continued commitment to those travelers with additional requirements, the airline and Signcode UK are collaborating to produce signed videos that can be accessed via a link or a unique QR code, allowing customers to receive personalized video messages in sign language. 

The first video, which is already available for viewing before travel on the airline’s website, offers a comprehensive overview of British Airways’ service proposition throughout the entire journey, including the booking process, the airport experience, onboard services, and the in-flight entertainment offering.  

It also includes a BSL (British Sign Language) introduction from Fredrick Da Costa, British Airways’ first Deaf Customer Experience Agent who uses BSL as part of his role. BA says the video aims to “empower customers by providing them with the information they need to make more informed choices when they travel.” 

A second video will be available by the end of 2023 and will focus on onboard safety features and procedures. This video will be accessible via the website and a QR code that British Airways cabin crew will have on their mobile devices onboard.  

According to BA, having several viewing options allows customers to choose between receiving a signed video safety briefing on their personal device or receiving a personalized briefing delivered by a member of the crew face-to-face.  

“We are proud to partner with Signcode UK to improve further our accessibility offering for our Deaf and hard of hearing customers,” said Carrie Harris, Director of Sustainability at British Airways. “This collaboration aligns with our ongoing commitment to ensure that all our customers have a seamless experience and can travel with confidence, dignity, and comfort.” 

“Working with British Airways and making the Deaf community aware of the services available to them has been a privilege and an honor,” said Gill Earl, Managing Director at Signcode UK. We are proud to help them on their accessibility journey by bringing our professional media translators together with BA’s Fredrick De Costa on their first BSL video. We are delighted as a company but more for the Deaf and hard-of-hearing communities we serve. They now have independent access to all British Airways can offer.” 

Recognizing the linguistic diversity within the Deaf community, British Airways and Signcode UK will provide videos in British Sign Language (BSL) and American Sign Language (ASL) and are exploring the potential to expand into other languages such as Spanish. The airline hopes to grow its BSL video content further in 2024.  

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