In 2010, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) made an amendment to the Aircraft Carrier Access Act. The amendment made it mandatory for all airports to ensure that their facilities were accessible to individuals with disabilities, including people who are deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing. The Minneapolis St. Paul (MSP) Airport was not up to federal standards of accessibility back then and as a result, collaborated with MNCDHH and the Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) to work toward their goal to become the most accessible airport in North America.
"Promote equitable access for all airport users."
- The motto for the Travelers with Disabilities Advisory Committee (TDAC)
Who this impacts
- Travelers who are deaf, deafblind and hard of hearing who come through MSP Airport
- Travelers with disabilities who come through the MSP Airport
- Travelers without disabilities who come through the MSP Airport and benefit from the perks of accessibility
Through the hard work of several entities, the MSP Airport has implemented several changes to increase accessibility. In 2014, MNCDHH helped MSP Airport form an advisory committee that includes deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing representation.
The advisory group, called Travelers with Disability Advisory Committee (TDAC), meets four times a year and continues to meet to this day. They helped MSP Airport comply with the amended Air Carrier Access Act rules. In 2014, MSP Airport added American Sign Language as an available language throughout their facilities. Visual paging and service animals relief stations were also added. The following year, Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) became available at all Traveler Assistance Stations and added even more looping for further accessibility for individuals with hearing aids. In 2016, VRI was extended to all Traveler assistance volunteer’s tablet. These changes have not only benefited deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing travelers but all travelers that enter the MSP airport.
Since the Federal Aviation Administration mandated that all airports had to be accessible, MSP Airport has added:
- Visual Paging & Emergency Alerts
- Emergency strobe light alerting devices throughout both terminals
- Video Relay Service (VRS)
- Public phones are hearing aid compatible and equipped with volume controls
- Gate Information Displays (GIDs)
- Closed-Captioning on all televisions within the MSP Airport
- Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) with access to American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting
- Accessible website for the airport
- Implementation of good acoustical design for noise reduction
- Staff and volunteer training
- Service Animal/Pet Relief areas added
- Included people with disabilities in their FAA-mandated crash simulation every 3 years
- And more!
Due to their hard work and dedication to ensure that the MSP Airport is accessible, and their success in making MSP Airport accessible to deaf, deafblind, and hard of hearing persons, MNCDHH awarded MAC and the MSP Airport with the Accessibility Leadership Award in 2013.
Who was involved
- Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC), Phil Burke
- MNCDHH's staff and airport advisory group, including Cynthia Weitzel, Monique Hammond (Hearing Loss Association of America - Twin Cities Chapter), Emory K. Dively (Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens), Jamie Taylor (Minnesota DeafBlind Association), George Failes (Minnesota DeafBlind Association), Jerry Pouliot (community leader), Teika Pakalns (community leader), and Rick McPherson (Minnesota Disability Law Center)
- MSP Airport, Steve Wareham
- Andrew Palmberg
- MAC's current Travelers with Disabilities Advisory Committee (TDAC), established in 2014.