July is Disability Pride Month, which commemorates the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. But at United, our app team works year-round to ensure travel is accessible to everyone.
The United app automatically works with the accessibility settings built into your phone to streamline travel for people of all abilities. This ensures that everyone using the app can easily book a flight, check-in, access their MileagePlus® profile, and navigate the airport. In 2021, the redesigned and modernized United app won the Webby People’s Voice Award for Best Travel App. The Department of Transportation has accessibility mandates for website content, but developing an accessible app was truly a passion project for the United app team. Those with visual or motor disabilities are likely familiar with the screen-reading technologies TalkBack and VoiceOver, found on Android and iOS devices. When enabled, these device settings work organically with the United app to read information aloud. While these technologies aren’t unique to the United app, our app was engineered with specific requirements to ensure the on-screen information is read and pronounced as accurately as possible.
“I do a lot of work outside of United within the blindness community, and what United is doing compared to other airlines is being noticed,” says Ray Campbell, a Senior Analyst of Digital Commerce Reliability at United, who is also blind.
The United app also has features, such as high color contrast, to accommodate those with contrast provision disabilities and color blindness, along with closed captioning in our personal device entertainment area of the app for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Navigating the airport just got easier with the United app’s Terminal Guide feature, which helps travelers with a special service request or wheelchair identify the best path to their gate. For example, if you’ve designated a wheelchair special service request in your booking, we’ll recommend the best path for drop off at the airport to help get you checked in at the right service desk in the lobby. In addition, our in-app airport maps will show you flat routes free from stairs. Similarly, they can point out animal relief areas for customers with support animals or quiet rooms for those with sensory disabilities.
You can use these features in the United app inflight or on the ground—and rest assured, United’s app team is always adding new accessibility features. This is a point of pride for Christine Kurash, Senior Manager of Digital Planning Projects and Communications Chair of Bridge, United’s business resource group that aims to connect people of all abilities.
“At Bridge, we encourage accessibility to be something we think about from the very beginning,” Kurash says. “We don’t want to build something and then ask how we make it accessible.”