Image via Bluebox Aviation Systems

Pictured (from left to right): Steve J. Pollard, Executive – Inflight Service Delivery, Virgin Atlantic; Geraldine Lundy, Passenger Accessibility Manager, Virgin Atlantic; David Brown, Business Development Director, Bluebox; Faye Bridle, Flight Service Manager, Virgin Atlantic; Paul Smith, Guide Dog Owner and Volunteer, Guide Dogs; Pedro, Paul’s guide dog; and, Simon Cope, My Guide Ambassador, Guide Dogs. Image via Bluebox Aviation Systems.

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of APEX EXPO this year, APEX Media is looking back at its members’ most significant achievements. Today, we take a look at how Bluebox Aviation Systems improved the passenger experience for those with visual impairments.

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In November 2017, Virgin Atlantic became the first airline to offer accessible in-flight entertainment (IFE) fleet-wide with the launch of Bluebox aIFE. Codeveloped by the airline, Bluebox Aviation Systems (Bluebox) and Guide Dogs UK, Bluebox aIFE provides content for visually impaired passengers.

The Bluebox aIFE platform is a fully customized iPad-based user interface that builds upon the accessibility features of Apple’s iOS platform, such as VoiceOver and Zoom, with the addition of support for multiple languages, closed captions and audio-described content for the IFE environment.

David Brown, director of Business Development for Bluebox, said, “Bluebox aIFE gives this group of passengers what’s missing from an airline system that doesn’t meet their needs: equality and independence, two things that we discovered were in many ways more important than the entertainment itself. Learning that, and ultimately providing a solution that made this passenger community feel the industry listened to them, made this the most humbling and enjoyable project any of us have ever worked on.”

“Bluebox aIFE gives this group of passengers what’s missing from an airline system that doesn’t meet their needs: equality and independence.” – David Brown, Bluebox Aviation Systems.

Bluebox aIFE created lots of noise, thereby starting more conversations about accessibility – an article about the platform on the Virgin website was even shared by Sir Richard Branson on LinkedIn. It won the 2018 Crystal Cabin Award in the “IFEC” category, as well as the 2019 APEX Award for “Best Inflight Entertainment Innovation.”

More airlines are introducing Bluebox aIFE on board, including Etihad, and momentum around accessibility is continuing to build, with IATA having recently approved an accessibility resolution to improve the air travel experience for people living with disabilities globally. “We’re proud that we’ve been part of making the passenger experience more accessible for everyone,” Brown commented.

See more posts from the 40 Success Stories campaign.