Department of Transportation Orders Closed Captioning in Airports


In September of 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a notice of proposed rule making in Docket OST 2011-0182 titled, “Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance (U.S. Airports).” The DOT issued this final rule to amend section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires accessibility in airport terminal facilities.

The ruling states:

“…airport operators will be required to enable or ensure high-contrast captioning at all times on televisions and other audio-visual displays capable of displaying captions located in any gate area, ticketing area, first-class or other passenger lounge provided by a U.S. or foreign carrier, or any common area of the terminal to which passengers have access.”

This will also apply to other audio-visual displays located in any space leased by a retailer or restaurant. Airport operators will now be obligated to ensure that the proprietor enables the captioning feature on their displays in a manner that satisfies this requirement.

Additionally, this ruling states that airports shall ensure the availability of mechanical lifts to provide level-entry boarding for passengers with mobility impairments flying on small commuter aircraft. Airport operators must also provide suitable facilities for service animals.

After 4 years, this ruling just went into effect yesterday, October 5, 2015, and will apply to airport facilities located in the United States that receive Federal financial support and service 10,000 or more annual passengers. They will have 30 days to fulfill these responsibilities.

For the full report, visit Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Programs or Activities Receiving Federal Financial Assistance (U.S. Airports) at the Office of the Federal Register.