December 15, 2005

SFO's New Visual Paging System to Settle Suit

San Francisco International Airport plans to roll out an additional 80 visual paging monitors as part of a new visual paging system at the airport’s domestic and international terminals, part of a settlement agreement worked out between the airport and attorneys for deaf individuals who sued the airport nearly four years ago.

The monitors "will enable deaf and hard of hearing passengers to have equal access to the information broadcast over the public address system, including courtesy pages and emergency information," says a press release from Disability Rights Advocates, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs. The airport currently has 46 monitors.

"Travelers who are deaf will also be able to use a special number posted at white courtesy telephones and TTY phones to page family or friends with whom they are trying to connect at the airport. The monitors will also provide an alternate means for hearing passengers to obtain important Airport information."

The visual paging system can be used as well by hearing people, and as such is "a great example of universal design."

As part of the terms of the settlement, the airport will also increase the number of TTY telephones, improve the visibility of its signage and revise information in its handouts and on its website about its access; it "will also make remote video interpreting services available to passengers in the event of an emergency situation."

DRA points out that the settlement is limited to services provided by the airport itself, and does not extend to communication access provided by individual airlines at check-in counters and gates.

The San Francisco International Airport is the 12th largest airport in the U. S. and the 21st largest in the world. More than 30 million passengers fly through SFO every year.

Read more about the case settlement from Disability Rights Advocates.

Posted on December 15, 2005