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News.

5 May 2022

“It’s not fair” – How airline apps are letting down blind passengers

Only one major UK airline’s App works with screenreaders for the blind – but BA, Jet2 and Tui promise that they will improve after Which? investigation
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Four out of the five airline Apps that we tested did not allow blind customers to book a flight using a screenreader.

Instead, any blind person wanting to book a flight would be forced to call, potentially incurring charges or long waiting times. 

The exception was easyJet, whose App was praised by our researcher, Adi Latif from accessibility consultancy AbilityNet, who said that while using it ‘I didn’t feel blind.’  

See Adi doing battle with the airline Apps here

Poorly designed Apps unusable by blind people

Adi, who’s been blind since he was a teenager, is able to use the screenreader on his iPhone on many different Apps. It reads the information on screen aloud, so that he is able to use the App like a sighted person.

Unfortunately the design of most of the airline Apps we looked at meant that the information wasn’t read aloud by screenreaders in a coherent way, making them impossible to use.

We asked Adi to test the Apps of British Airways, easyJet, Jet2, Tui and Ryanair, by trying to book a flight from London to Alicante. 

The BA and Jet2 Apps were described as ‘very confusing’ because buttons weren’t being announced properly. With Tui and Ryanair it was also very unclear what some buttons did and Adi was forced to give up without being able to book a flight.

EasyJet praised for its easy-to-use App

In contrast, Adi got to the end of the booking stage without difficulty using the easyJet App, and would have been able to book a flight. 

He said that: ‘With the easyJet App I didn’t feel blind but with the other Apps I felt my blindness. I felt ‘it’s not fair, I can’t see the screen and I’m not able to use this App’’.

easyJet’s App proves that it is possible to make an App that’s usable by non-sighted passengers. Adi says that all airline Apps being as well-designed as easyJet’s might be an advantage for sighted users as well. 

‘Apps that are usable by people using screen readers are usually easier to use for everyone,’ he says.