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OST-2011-0177 - NPRM - Accessibility of Web Sites and Automated Kiosks at US Airports - Air Carrier Access Act

 

OST-2016-0202 - Southwest Airlines and US DOT - Accessible Kiosk Agreement

OST-2015-0225 - Copa Airlines - Petition for Temporary Exemption - Accesibility of Web Sites


Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel: Accessibility of Web Sites and Automated Kiosks at US Airports

OST-2011-0177

September 19, 2011

Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking - Bookmarked

The Department of Transportation proposes to revise its rule implementing the Air Carrier Access Act to provide greater accommodations for individuals with disabilities in air travel by requiring US and foreign air carriers to make their Web sites accessible to individuals with disabilities and to ensure that their ticket agents do the same. It would also require US and foreign air carriers to ensure that their proprietary and shared-use automated airport kiosks are accessible to individuals with disabilities. In addition, the Department proposes to revise its rule implementing Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act to require US airports to ensure that shared-use automated airport kiosks are accessible to individuals with disabilities. This supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking applies to US carriers and to foreign air carriers operating flights to, from, and in the United States. It also applies to US airports with annual enplanements of 10,000 or more. The proposed rule establishes the technical criteria and procedures that apply to automated airport kiosks and to Web sites on which covered air transportation is marketed to the general public in the US to ensure that individuals with disabilities can readily use these technologies to obtain the same information and services as other members of the public.

By: Ray LaHood

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Takes Action to Make Websites and Kiosks Accessible to Air Travelers with Disabilities - DOT Press Release

 

August 30, 2011

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

By: Econometrica, Inc.

 

September 7, 2011

Preliminary Regulatory Analysis

By: Econometrica, Inc.


 

September 16, 2011

Executive Order 12866 and Congressional Review Requirements

By: Blane Workie



October 7, 2011

Request of Air Transport Association, International Air Transport Association, Regional Airline Association and Air Carrier Association to Clarify and to Extend the Comment Period

The Air Transport Association of America, Inc., the International Air Transport Association, the Regional Airline Association, and the Air Carrier Association of America on behalf of their air carrier members, appreciates the opportunity to provide comments on the Department’s September 26, 2011, supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking regarding accessible web sites and automated kiosks at US airports. We look forward to continuing to work cooperatively with the Department to improve air travel for disabled passengers. The comment period for the proposed rulemaking is set to close on November 25, 2011. Due to the complexity of the proposed rule and the ambiguity of certain key aspects, we respectfully requests that the Department clarify portions of the proposal and extend the comment period by 120 days. This will allow interested parties to fully evaluate the proposed rule, answer the more than 150 questions in the preamble and develop constructive comments for the Department’s consideration. With this extension, the comment period would end on March 25, 2012.

In addition, to facilitate a meaningful review of the SNPRM, we ask the Department to confirm certain aspects of the SNPRM in its response to this extension request. In particular, it would be beneficial to understand the precise scope of applicability the Department intended for website accessibility standards.

Counsel: Douglas Mullen, 202-626-4000 for ATA / Douglas Lavin, 202-628-9292 for IATA / Edward Faberman, 202-719-7420 for ACAA / Roger Cohen, 202-367-1250 for RAA


 

October 20, 2011

Request of Association of Asia Pacific Airlines to Extend the Comment Period

The AAPA agrees with and supports the request by our industry partners (Air Transport Association of America, International Air Transport Association, Regional Airline Association and Air Carrier Association of America) to extend the comment deadline by 120 days from the current deadline of 25 November 2011. The SNPRM contains issues that will have an impact on the operations of international carriers. With the extension, AAPA and other interested industry stakeholders will be able to more thoroughly analyse and evaluate the proposed rulemaking and develop constructive comments.

Counsel: AAPA, Steve Martin & Howard Mann, 301-941-1400


 

October 28, 2011

Request of Interactive Travel Services Association for Extension of Comment Period

ITSA continues, in general, to support ways to provide meaningful access by persons with disabilities to websites and kiosks for the sale and management of air travel. However, we share the view of the Air Transport Association, et al., that this is a complex matter and that the Department's specific proposals will require substantial time in order to analyze fully. We further agree with ATA, et al., that such an analysis and thoughtful response to the many facets of the rule proposed here will serve the public interest.

Therefore, in ITSA's view, an extension of the comment period by at least 60 days would be necessaty in order to provide an in-depth, comprehensive response to this proposal and the questions raised specifically by the Department.

By: ITSA, Joseph Rubin


 

Issued November 16, 2011

Extension of Comment Period and Clarification of Proposed Rule

As Published in Federal Register November 21, 2011

This action extends the comment period for a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking on the accessibility of Web sites and automated kiosks that was published in the Federal Register on September 26, 2011. The Department of Transportation is extending the closing date for interested persons to submit comments on this rulemaking by 45 days from November 25, 2011, to January 9, 2012. This extension is a result of requests from a number of parties for additional time to respond to the SNPRM. The Air Transport Association, the International Air Transport Association, the Air Carrier Association of America, the Regional Airline Association and the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines all asked to extend the comment period on the proposal by 120 days in order to allow interested parties to fully evaluate the proposed rule, answer the numerous questions in the preamble, and develop constructive comments for the Department’s consideration. The Interactive Travel Services Association requested an extension of at least 60 days to gather the information necessary to provide an in depth, comprehensive response to the SNPRM. An individual with a disability has also asked for an extension, citing difficulties in using the online comment form on the www.regulations.gov Web site. The Department acknowledges that more time to provide comments may be warranted given the complex nature of the issues and the need to resolve problems encountered by some individuals to date in submitting comments. Nonetheless, we are not persuaded that an additional 120 or even 60 days are needed to respond. In addition to extending the comment period, this action responds to questions posed by the Associations about certain aspects of the SNPRM.

By: Neil Eisner


 

November 28, 2011

Comments of San Francisco International Airport

The proposed rule would make the airports and airlines jointly and severally responsible for achieving accessible shared-use automated kiosks. SFO does not believe this is a practical requirement nor does the requirement make sense. Airports and airlines each have discrete responsibilities for the shared use automated airport kiosks. As the DOT correctly points out, the responsibility for the hardware and middleware components of shared-use automated airport kiosks generally falls to the airports (as is the case with SFO), and the responsibility for compatible software applications and data sets falls to carriers (p. 59322). Each side must fulfill its obligations to provide accessible hardware or software and, if the other side does not, there is no accessible kiosk. Failure occurs through no fault of the complying party and that party should not be held responsible for the actions of the non-complying party.

Airports have no control over the development of the airlines' software applications and should not be held responsible if any deficiencies in meeting the timely and complete implementation of a joint agreement are caused by software application problems. SFO is committed to working with the airlines to make the shared-use automated kiosks accessible. However, if kiosks are not accessible because of airline software application issues, SFO should be not held responsible by the DOT or be subject to third-party liability. SFO strongly urges the DOT to remove this provision from the rule.

By: John Martin


 

November 16, 2011

Executive Order 12866 and Congressional Review Requirements

By: Blaine Workie


 

December 7, 2011

Comments of Association for Airline Passenger Rights

That air carriers continue to expressly oppose making their websites fully accessible demonstrates their lack of understanding about the return on investment it represents for their bottom line. The risk adverse approach that the airlines have adopted overlooks one of the largest emerging markets in the country, and worldwide. Companies like IBM, Microsoft, Google and many others have al harnessed their accessibility to expand their respective markets, so the airlines' argument that it would be "it would be too difficult and expensive to accomplish" is not reflective of what many other companies have already achieved in this area.

AAPR contends that DOT should require carriers to retrofit or replace a certain portion of their kiosk fleet to meet the accessibility standards during the interim period until 100% of all automated airport kiosks are accessible. Frankly, these kiosks were put into use without being accessible which seems to fly in the face of the legislative intent of protections afforded under ACAA for individuals with disabilities. DOT might consider providing grants to airlines to offset some of the costs, but the bottom line remains that a transition timeline of ten years is far too long to for accessible kiosks to be available to individuals with disabilities. Achieving anything less than 100% accessible kiosks would achieve a standard that is no different than Part 382, which currently requires carriers to provide equivalent service to passengers with disabilities when automated airport kiosks are inaccessible, such service typically involves assistance from carrier personnel in operating the kiosk or permitting a passenger to move to the first class ticket counter line. Either way, unequal access to services is unacceptable. With that in mind, AAPR agrees that DOT'S best alternative as requiring that all new automated airport kiosks ordered after a certain date be accessible so that eventually 100% of kiosks at all airport locations will be accessible.

By: Brandon Macsata

 

December 19, 2011

Comments of Denver International Airport

DIA RECOMMENDS that an airport or airline have TEN YEARS following the effective date of the rule to bring 100% of existing kiosks into compliance with accessibility requirements: 25% by Year 3; 50% within 5 years; 75% within 7 years; 100% within 10 years. Airlines with dormant accessibility features such as microphone jacks should have 5 years to activate such features when new programming is required and 1 year when no programming is required.

By: DIA


 

January 9, 2012

Comments of Airlines for America, International Air Transport Association, Airports Council International - North America, Regional Airline Association and Air Carrier Association of America

We recommend that the Department substantially revise the SNPRM to adopt regulatory alternatives. As proposed, the SNPRM imposes an undue burden on airlines and does not meet EO 12866 and 13563 directives.

We support taking incremental steps to provide increase access to information and functions on carrier websites that market air transportation. However, we believe that any regulatory mandate in this area take into account and recognize the substantial efforts by carriers to date to increase passenger access to information on carrier websites. At the same time, as in the case with the kiosks, we believe it is incumbent of DOT to offer carriers a more flexible approach to meet this shared goal of increased access. Carriers have already made substantial efforts to increase passenger access to information on carrier websites, without a regulatory mandate to do so. These efforts have included incorporating accessible website features in newly developed applications such as mobile websites or creating text alternative websites to better serve passengers with disabilities. The primary goal of these efforts has been to adopt usability features, instead of limiting website development to strict standards. The result of these efforts has been to make the core and most important features of a carrier website accessible to passengers with disabilities. Many carriers use accessible website experts to maximize usability of carrier websites.

The best way for the Department to meet its goals in this area is to change its proposed prescriptive website standard and provide additional flexibility. The Department should permit carriers and ticket agents to meet any existing or future web accessibility standard. Adopting a strict “one size fits all” standard will unnecessarily divert carrier resources to comply with technical standards, when many of the estimated benefits have already been achieved or could be achieved in a much more efficient manner. Increased accessibility should embrace the innovation, improvements, and features all passengers enjoy, such as carrier mobile websites or applications downloaded onto a computer or smart device. Otherwise the unintended consequence of this prescriptive approach will be to constrain future innovation that would benefit all passengers, including .passengers with disabilities. Adopting regulatory alternatives will drastically eliminate unnecessary costs and focus on users and functionality.

The Department should not adopt its proposal to require carriers to enforce the website accessibility requirements against ticket agents. Carriers will have no leverage to enforce DOT regulations. If the Department is interested in regulating ticket agent websites, it should do so directly and not through carriers. Indirect regulation of ticket agents will cause conflicts in contractual relationships, slow implementation, and create another layer of bureaucracy that does not benefit consumers. We estimate it would cost a minimum of $250,000 per year per carrier to “enforce” accessibility requirements against ticket agents. Carrier efforts to identify and notify a ticket agent of web accessibility shortcomings will not ultimately result in compliance. Carriers are not regulators and should not be burdened with this regulatory function.

Counsel: Douglas Mullen, 202-626-4000 for A4A / James Briggs, 202-293-8500 for ACI-NA / Douglas Lavin, 202-628-9292 for IATA / Edward Faberman, 202-719-7420 for ACAA / Roger Cohen, 202-367-1250 for RAA

 

January 9, 2012

Comments of Air New Zealand

New Zealand feels that should the Department require ticket agents as well as airlines to have accessible websites that the rule should apply directly to ticket agents. Airlines should not be held responsible for the accessibility of websites of ticket agents which sell airline tickets. Agents make sales on behalf of numerous airlines, putting multiple airlines in the position of monitoring a single ticket agent’s website. There would be no certainty or clarity over which airlines would be responsible. Agents also sell non-airline products, therefore airlines should not carry responsibility for ensuring agents’ websites are accessible for those different offerings. At the most, a carrier should only be responsible for informing ticket agents that their websites need to be compliant, although this can more effectively be achieved by agents having direct responsibility under the rule.

Although there is different applicability between the ACAA and ADA legislation, Air New Zealand asserts that the legislation should be dependent on the Department of Justice moving forward with its rule making under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act to endeavor to provide consumers who require accessibility to have a consistent experience with accessible websites across industries.

Counsel: Kirstein & Young, Joanne Young, 202-331-3348

 

January 9, 2012

Comments of All Nippon Airways

In the SNPRM, DOT estimated that the cost of complying with the new requirements should be no more than $225,000 (reflecting 1500 hours of work), for a carrier with a large website of an average of 900 pages. Likewise, once initial compliance had been achieved, DOT estimated that the annual cost of updating websites for the entire industry would be $2 million. See 76 Fed. Reg. at 59315. ANA believes that these amounts are unrealistically low. ANA expects that 2500 content pages on its website, and 350 dynamic booking engine pages, would need to be updated ANA expects that the initial process of reviewing the WCAG requirements and the current features of its website to which they would need to be applied would by itself require at least 6 months and at least $250,000. Further, ANA estimates that actually implementing the changes would require at least an additional 12 months (2 months for coordination, 8 months for production and development, and 2 months for testing) and would cost $6 million (of which $5.5 million would be needed for revisions to the booking engine and $500,000 would be needed for other elements of the website; considerably more time and effort would be required to ensure the compliance of dynamic pages). In support of this project, ANA expects that more than 20 employees would need to be devoted to this project, either full- or part-time. Additionally, ANA estimates that ensuring ongoing compliance of both the content pages on its website as well as the booking engine would cost more than $1.5 million per year.

By the same token, ANA believes that the timeframe proposed by DOT for implementing the changes is unrealistic. Although ANA envisions that it could complete all of the necessary measures within 2 years, the proposed accelerated 1-year timeframe for implementing changes to “core” web pages (i.e., associated with changing or booking a reservation) is not feasible; these are in fact the most complicated of the tasks to be performed, and deferring work on other pages would not enable their enhancement to occur any faster. Preferably, the 2-year deadline should apply to all enhancements, and not just to non-“core” pages. At a bare minimum, carriers should be allowed 18 months to make changes for web pages associated with changing or booking a reservation, etc., consistent with the timeframe set forth above by ANA (which, notably, does not account for any supplemental guidance or other revisions to standards that might be issued by DOT post-final rule).

While ANA has no general objection to DOT’s proposal that the websites of most ticket agents be subject to the same accessibility requirements as carrier websites, ANA does strenuously object to DOT’s proposal that carriers in effect become the guarantors of that compliance (proposed § 382.43(d)). This proposal is neither necessary nor feasible.

In addition, the Preliminary Regulatory Analysis does not appear to address or account for the potential costs of requiring carriers to monitor agents. These costs would not be limited to direct costs (which would be significant),8 but would also include indirect costs. For example, many agents that are relatively small (but would not qualify for a small business exemption) might conclude that the convoluted burden proposed by DOT was the final economic straw, and simply discontinue their websites. Such a result would not benefit passengers with disabilities, passengers as a whole, the carriers that rely on agents, or the industry as a whole. Yet there is no indication that DOT has tried to quantify the economic impact of this component (or of any other component) of indirect regulation. Thus, not only is this proposal unnecessary and infeasible, it lacks the fundamental cost analysis and rationale necessary to a valid rulemaking.

Counsel: Zuckert Scoutt, Jol Silversmith, 202-298-8660

 

January 9, 2012

Comments of Allegiant Air

Allegiant concurs with the January 3 kiosk accessibility comments of AAI and joins in those comments. The requirements of existing § 382.57 are more than sufficient to address the concerns articulated and to provide reasonable accommodation to passengers with disabilities. In short the existing procedure is fully consistent with the requirements of § 382.1 and the ACAA. As the Department has recognized, it is not physically or technologically possible to make all facilities and services accessible to each and every qualified individual, hence the § 382.1 requirement that carriers take steps to accommodate passengers with disabilities. Kiosk accessibility is a prime example of a situation where a human solution – active accommodation of passengers requiring assistance – is superior to a very costly and unwarranted technology-based solution that will leave numerous passengers dissatisfied if not disaccommodated in any event.

As AAI notes, the SNPRM references neither an enforcement action nor other evidence that regulatory action to enhance kiosk accessibility is a necessity. In Allegiant’s view the Department’s proposal could fairly be characterized as a solution in search of a problem. The proposed expansion of § 382.57 is neither reasonable nor justified, and the regulation should be left as is.

Counsel: Garofalo Goerlich, Aaron Goerlich, 202-776-3974

 

January 9, 2012

Comments of American Association of People with Disabilities

The current time frame of ten years for air carriers to comply with accessible kiosk requirements is too long. As use of kiosks increase, the cost savings in airline personnel increases. With this cost savings, air carriers should be able to replace older equipment, activate dormant features that can make kiosks more accessible, remove other barriers, and purchase new kiosks in a timely manner. AAPD thus believes that 100 percent of kiosks should be fully accessible within three to five years. In the meantime, all accessible kiosks should be identified with the International Symbol of Accessibility.

By: Mark Perriello

 

January 3, 2012

Comments of the American Aviation Institute

Accessibility of air travel continues to be an important public policy objective but does not permit defective and misleading economic analysis. It is reasonable for DOT to phase in standards for website accessibility while minimizing industry compliance cost. We recommend that DOT limit the scope of Level AA compliance to the pages associated with booking, managing or changing a reservation and provide a minimum two-year window for implementation prior to the first effective date. But DOT’s proposed changes for airport kiosk accessibility are unreasonable and unjustified. 14 CFR 382.57 requires airlines to offer individuals with disabilities priority “front of the line” access to check-in counters and agents, and DOT has documented no failures that necessitate further regulatory action. Its proposed solution (full kiosk accessibility) raises important safety and welfare questions for the general public. Our comments focus on six problems with the SNPRM. First, policies that drive consumers to online/kiosk transactions will result in loss of airline jobs. Second, there are inherent safety considerations for all passengers related to fully automated check-in by individuals with visual disabilities. Third, website and kiosk use by individuals with visual disabilities may be slower than interaction with a call center or airport desk. Fourth, fundamental errors in the supplied Preliminary Regulatory Analysis result in overstated benefits and understated costs. Fifth, implementation timetables proposed are unrealistically short. Sixth, it is impractical to hold airlines liable for accessibility of independent agency websites, or to jointly and severally penalize airlines and airports for common-use kiosks.

Counsel: AAI, Darryl Jenkins

 

January 9, 2012

Comments of American Foundation for the Blind

DOT wonders whether it is adequate for carriers to send users with disabilities to their mobile web sites where logic dictates that a simpler layout could suffice as a measure of accessibility. We, once again, do not believe so. The complexity of a browser determining that a particular user needs to be sent to a mobile web site in an automated way is difficult to describe—much less difficult to achieve. This process would necessarily single out users with disabilities and force them to disclose their disability when there is no need for them to do so. This is, of course, if the carrier’s mobile web site contains all the features that its non-mobile site has.

In forming its cost benefit analysis, the DOT refers to several entities that it does not cover under the proposed regulations because of their size or the technical difficulty possible in achieving accessibility. DOT specifically discusses travel agents as one of these entities. This analysis unfortunately results from a view that making web sites accessible is a process akin to making physical facilities accessible. While there are indeed barriers such as clarity in ownership, size of firms, etc., these barriers are easily overcome by looking at resources for such small firms. Open source –freely available—content management systems exist that provide full accessibility out of the box that would require very little work for entities needing to comply with regulations. In addition, the entities have the option to ensure that their web sites are made accessible by individuals or contractors responsible for creating and maintaining their websites.

Carving out an exception for revenue or number of employees is not necessary. The well-established “undue burden” defense will be available to Title II and III entities that cannot meet the new regulations for content posted prior to the effective date and not substantially refreshed since the effective date. The five-pronged definition of “undue burden,” which takes into account the size of an entity, its financial and other resources, the number of its employees and other factors will adequately protect the legitimate interests of covered entities without erecting additional barriers to implementation of new web accessibility regulations.

Counsel: Eric Bridges, 202-467-5081

 

January 6, 2012

Comments of the American Society of Travel Agents

One subject that gets a large amount of attention in the NPRM is the question whether DOT should impress the airlines into service as enforcers of the accessibility rules, presumably on the theory that they are the principals in a principal-agency relationship with travel agents and thus already in a position to enforce their will on the agents through contracts and otherwise. ASTA is strenuously opposed to the creation of an airline enforcement regime for web accessibility rules. The only acceptable role for airlines as intermediaries in this process is the use of the Airlines Reporting Corporation as a means of achieving universal notice to travel agents who sell air that, if those agents operate a web site, there are rules to be satisfied. Such notice will, of course, be supplemented by ASTA’s own communications to its members, through newsletters and webinars, about the nature and extent of the rules to be satisfied. Airlines individually may also communicate to their agents about the rules. But communication should be the outer limit of the airlines involvement in agency compliance.

DOT has indicated that the proposed rule applies to travel agency websites, mobile apps and booking engines. The implication is that the rule applies only to public-facing sites and not to private (i.e. corporate) websites and booking engines. We ask the Department to clarify this question, which arose in connection with the recently adopted Consumer Rule II as well and was addressed in post-adoption FAQs regarding the rules. In some cases, the travel agency may own the online booking tool, but in many cases the corporation itself owns the tool that the agency merely manages. In adopting any final rule, the Department should clarify the applicability of the rules to private website and corporate booking engines.

Counsel: ASTA, Paul Ruden, 703-739-6854

 

January 9, 2012

Comments of Association of Asia Pacific Airlines

AAPA submits the DOT has not sufficiently examined the complexity of international air travel and the associated issues of managing multiple websites internationally in this SNPRM. We urge the DOT to engage in further dialogue with the international airline community to better understand the issues and difficulties involved, as well as the practicalities of various solutions, before requiring implementation of various measures addressed in this SNPRM.

Counsel: AAPA, Steve Martin & Howard Mann, 301-941-1400

 

January 9, 2012

Comments of Condor Flugdienst

To the extent that the Department decides to require carriers to redesign their websites for compliance with WCAG 2.0 standards, Condor respectfully requests that the Department allow an alternative means of compliance for carriers that perform only a small number of weekly flights to the United States, such as providing an accessible telephone reservation system free of charge that provides equivalent service and information. Additionally, Condor requests that the Department reconsider its proposal to hold carriers responsible for ticket agents' compliance with accessibility standards, as it would unfairly increase the cost to carriers - especially carriers with very limited staff for US operations.

Counsel: Holland & Knight, Anita Mosner

 

January 9, 2012

Comments of Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities

The task force supports requiring accessible kiosks at US airports with 10,000 or more enplanements per year. To ensure that accessible kiosks are available as soon as possible, we believe, however, that all kiosks ordered 30 days after the effective date of the rule should be accessible, not 60 days. Furthermore, all existing kiosks should be replaced or retrofitted within three to five years of the effective date of the rule. Inactive accessibility features should be activated immediately.

We also support the adoption of a performance standard and the types and a clarification of the versions of assistive technologies to which a performance standard should apply. Specifically, DOT must adopt a performance standard that is parallel to the Department of Justice’s effective communication criteria, which requires that communication be provided timely and in a manner that protects the privacy and independence of the user. It is also highly feasible to require airlines to work with members of the disability community to receive feedback on website accessibility. Otherwise, airlines may end up meeting the letter but not the spirit of the law.

We also believe that people with disabilities booking on-line should have the ability to request the accommodations that they need when flying, such as enplaning and deplaning assistance, use of a boarding chair, and stowage of mobility equipment. The ability to make a written record will assist the passenger by allowing his or her needs to be clearly stated and also help the airline to easily understand the passenger’s needs. If clarification is needed, the airline may simply contact the passenger for more information.

By: Heather Ansley, 202-556-2076

 

January 9, 2012

Comments of Interactive Travel Services Association

ITSA strongly agrees with the suggestion raised in the Department’s Notice that DOT should wait until the DOJ’s rulemaking on web standards is completed before proceeding with this rulemaking.

We prefer that ticket agent websites not be directly regulated by DOT, but rather that airlines be required to ensure that the sites operated by their agents are compliant with the DOT rules. This will reduce regulatory burdens on DOT, while allowing agents to work with their airline partners to ensure compliance. However, we propose one caveat, namely, that airlines be required to utilize the same standards and criteria in their oversight of ticket agents to avoid inconsistent requirements across airlines. In other words, the final rules adopted by DOT should be the common measure that airlines use to determine agency compliance, as opposed to any additional requirements that one airline or another might impose.

By: Joseph Rubin

 

January 9, 2012

Comments of National Federation of the Blind

Having a dialogue between the aviation community and blindness groups is also important during implementation. There is a popular misconception that blind people want or need special treatment, and that the best way to provide equal service to disabled passengers is to let them cut in line, or give them a special priority line. This is a myth. Blind people simply want access to the same equipment at the same time as sighted people, and special treatment is viewed as degrading rather than helpful. When implementing our retrofitting recommendations, airlines and airports should consult advocacy groups about what is the most respectful, user friendly way to deploy their access kiosks. A special line for blind people will not suffice.

By: NFB, Marc Maurer, 410-659-9314

 

January 9, 2012

Comments of the National Association of the Deaf, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Association of Late-Deafened Adults, Hearing Loss Association of America and California Coalition of Agencies Serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

The Consumer Groups recommend the adoption of regulations requiring US and foreign air carriers to make their web sites accessible to individuals with disabilities and to ensure that their ticket agents do likewise. It is especially important that the DOT takes a proactive approach in ensuring that websites and automated kiosks are designed with accessibility in mind, including individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. While most web based content and kiosks largely provide written/visual information, multimedia content with an audio component is becoming more and more common.

Counsel: National Association of the Deaf, Andrew Phillips

 

January 9, 2012

Comments of Virgin America

Although significant progress has been made since the Department’s original 2004 proposal on Web site and kiosk accessibility, the sheer number of questions that have been raised by the Department itself concerning the ultimate scope of a final regulation on Web site and kiosk accessibility indicates that several important questions still remain about what the actual standards should be, the compliance and maintenance cost associated with these proposals, the level of difficulty and technical feasibility of bringing the many Web sites in use today into compliance, and most importantly, the time needed to make the changes at a reasonable cost. The convening of such a meeting will provide the Department and interested parties with an important opportunity to address these issues in a comprehensive and thoughtful manner prior to the adoption of any final rules by the Department.

Counsel: Virgin America, Barbara Russell, 650-762-7000

 

January 30, 2012

Re: Comments of Paralyzed Veterans of America

These comments focus on accessibility of automated airport kiosks and not on website accessibility. As for automated airport kiosks, PVA fully supports the Department's proposal to require U.S. and foreign air carriers, and airport operators, that own, lease, or control automated kiosks at U.S. airports having 10,000 or more enplanements per year to ensure that all kiosk orders initiated 60 days after the effective date of the rule are for models that meet an accessibility standard based on section 707 of the U.S.
Department of Justice's 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (2010 ADA Standards) applicable to automated teller machines and fare machines.

By: Robert Herman

 

May 14, 2012

Comments of Qantas Airways and Jetstar Airways

We understand that the Department intends that the proposed rules to make Web sites and shared-use automated airport kiosks accessible to individuals with disabilities would apply to Qantas and Jetstar as foreign air carriers operating flights to, from, and within the US.

The Qantas Group offers special assistance services to customers with a disability and takes its responsibilities for these customers very seriously. We support the underlying intent of the Proposed Rulemaking however, we are concerned that the scope of the proposal ·is not reasonable, particularly in relation to ticket agent's compliance, and that the cost may be disproportionate to the potential benefits of the proposed rule.

As noted by the Department, the Department of Justice is considering revising the . regulations under Title Ill of the Americans with Disabilities Act in relation to Web site accessibility for individuals with disabilities. The Qantas Group believes these regulations will have the scope to more efficiently monitor and ensure compliance of travel agents and avoid duplication of regulation, unnecessary cost to the airline industry and ensure the intent of the Proposed Rulemaking can be more efficiently implemented. Travel agents provide a wide range of products and services to consumers unrelated to airline services. Consequently, we believe it will be necessary for those activities to be covered separately in the regulations being developed by the Department of Justice. In these circumstances travel agents should be dealt with exclusively under the proposed regulations being developed by the Department of Justice to avoid duplication and unnecessary complication of the Department of Transport's Proposed Rulemaking process.

By: Qantas and Jetstar


 

October 23, 2013

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

There are currently no Federal statutes or regulations establishing accessibility standards for automated airport kiosks or air travel Web sites. In the accompanying Rule, the accessibility requirements for automated airport kiosks will help to mitigate the physical barriers faced by users with mobility, hearing, cognitive, or fine-motor skill disabilities, as well as make them usable by those with vision disabilities. The Rule requirements for ensuring Web site accessibility primarily address the need to provide people with vision disabilities access to online information and services related to air travel.

By: Econometrica, Inc.


Issued November 1, 2013

Final Rule

The Department of Transportation is amending its rule implementing the Air Carrier Access Act to require US air carriers and foreign air carriers to make their Web sites that market air transportation to the general public in the United States accessible to individuals with disabilities. Specifically, we are requiring US and foreign air carriers that operate at least one aircraft having a seating capacity of more than 60 passengers to ensure that their primary Web sites are accessible. Web sites must conform to the standard for accessibility contained in the widely accepted Website Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 and meet the Level AA Success Criteria. In addition, the Department is amending its rule implementing 49 USC § 41712 that prohibits unfair and deceptive practices and unfair methods of competition to require ticket agents that are not small businesses to disclose and offer Web-based fares to passengers who indicate that they are unable to use the agents’ Web sites due to a disability.

DOT is also requiring US and foreign air carriers that own, lease, or control automated airport kiosks at US airports with 10,000 or more annual enplanements to ensure that kiosks meet detailed accessibility design standards specified in this rule until a total of at least 25 percent of automated kiosks in each location at the airport meet these standards. In addition, accessible kiosks provided in each location at the airport must provide all the same functions as the inaccessible kiosks in that location.

By: Anthony Foxx


 

Issued September 21, 2015 | On File at Federal Register September 25, 2015

Notice and Request for Comments

Online Request for Disability Accommodation - Each carrier will provide a mechanism on its website for passengers to request a disability accommodation service for a future flight and provide advance notice of their request. Carriers may, but need not, require passengers to include contact information on the form in order to follow-up and request more specific information about the passengers’ accommodation needs. Carriers may also use the aggregate data from the online service requests to understand and better plan for the volume and types of service requests they receive across time periods and routes, but also are not required to do so.

While the content and design of the online service request form is up to the carriers, the Department anticipates that each covered US and foreign carrier that markets scheduled air transportation to the general public in the United States would incur initial costs associated with developing and reviewing a design and implementation plan for the request form, developing, coding, and integrating the form into the Web site, as well as testing, debugging, and connecting the form with a backend database to store the information. The revised final regulatory analysis estimated that it will take an average of 32 labor hours per carrier to develop, implement, integrate, connect, and test the online request form. Should carrier associations or some other entity develop a common request form that all carriers could adapt and incorporate to their Web sites, the initial costs per carrier would be reduced.

Web Site Accessibility Disclaimer Notice - In order to be in conformance with the accessibility standard required by the final DOT rule, carriers must provide a disclaimer notice for each link on their primary Web site that enables a user to access software or an external Web site that is not in the carrier’s control. The disclaimer notice must be activated the first time a user clicks the link and must notify the user that the application/Web site is not within the carrier’s control and may not follow the same accessibility policies as the primary Web site. The Department anticipates that each covered US and foreign carrier that markets scheduled air transportation to the general public in the United States will incur costs associated with identifying all links on their Web sites that may require a disclaimer such as developing and reviewing the design and language for the disclaimer notice, as well as developing, testing, and deploying the code to the appropriate web pages.

The incremental labor hours associated with providing the required disclaimer may vary depending on the number of links on the Web site to which this requirement applies. The FRA estimated that it will take an average of 6 labor hours per carrier to identify the links and then develop, test, and deploy the disclaimer notice on the Web site.

By: Claire Barrett




On File at The Federal Register April 17, 2018

Notice and Request for Comments

As Published in Federal Register April 18, 2018

The collections involve requirements for carriers to provide a mechanism on their Web sites for passengers to provide online notification of their requests for disability accommodation services and for carriers to ensure that a disclaimer is activated when a user clicks a link on a primary Web site to embedded third-party software or an external Website. The disclaimer must inform the user that the software/Website in not within the carrier’s control and may not follow the same accessibility policies.

By: Blane Workie


 

June 18, 2018

Comments of Paralyzed Veterans of America

Although we support both collections, we will limit our comments to the collection of passenger submitted disability accommodation requests. We believe that it is important for air carriers to provide an easy to locate opportunity for passengers with disabilities to request disability accommodations in advance of arriving at the gate. This opportunity is necessary and has the potential to improve the experience of passengers with disabilities who need assistance to travel by air.

Collecting information that better informs air carriers about the needs of these passengers has the potential to be beneficial to all stakeholders. We agree with the Department that information about needed assistance may be helpful to air carriers in better understanding the types and frequency of requests received across routes and travel periods. To fully realize this opportunity, however, carriers will need to ensure that the information is not only collected but also used to make sure that passengers receive any needed assistance in a timely manner.

By: Heather Ansley


 

Issued July 18, 2018 | On File at Federal Register July 23, 2018

Notice and Request for Comments

As Published in Federal Register July 24, 2018

This notice covers two information collection requirements in the Department’s Air Carrier Access Act implementing regulation, 14 CFR Part 382 (Part 382), Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel. Specifically, pursuant to section 382.43(d), covered carriers must provide an online mechanism for passengers to request disability accommodation services (e.g., enplaning/deplaning assistance, deaf/hard of hearing communication assistance, escort to service animal relief area, etc.) for a particular flight. Pursuant to section 382.43(e), covered carriers must also ensure that when a user activates a link on a carrier’s primary Web site to embedded third-party software or to an external Web site, a disclaimer is displayed notifying the user that the application or Web site may not be accessible. These requirements became effective on December 12, 2015, and December 12, 2016, respectively. Covered carriers are US and foreign air carriers that operate at least one aircraft having a designed seating capacity of more than 60 passengers and own or control a primary Web site that markets passenger air transportation or a tour, or tour component that must be purchased with air transportation, to the general public in the United States.

On April 18, 2018, OST published a Federal Register Notice announcing its intention to renew OMB control number 2105-0571 and inviting interested persons to submit comments on these information collections for 60 days. See 83 FR 17221. During this time, the Department received one comment related to the information collections.

The commenter, Paralyzed Veterans of America, supported both information collections and emphasized that carriers should provide an opportunity for passengers with disabilities to request disability accommodation in advance of arriving at the gate at an easy to locate place on an airline’s website. PVA also stated that carriers should then use the information to make sure that passengers receive any needed assistance in a timely manner. PVA added that collecting service request information has the potential to benefit all stakeholders, including carriers, as it helps carriers understand the types and frequency of requests received across routes and travel periods. The PVA comment made no reference to the estimated number of respondents or burden hours for the information collections.

Accordingly, this notice announces that the information collection activities set forth in Part 382 have been re-evaluated and certified under 5 CFR 1320.5(a) and are being forwarded to OMB for review and approval pursuant to 5 CFR 1320.12(c). Before OMB decides whether to approve these proposed collections of information, it must provide 30 days for public comment.

By: Blane Workie

 

 


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