Guide Dogs has announced a long-term partnership with Virgin Atlantic which aims to create a more inclusive air travel experience for those with sight loss.
The charity will offer Virgin Atlantic’s cabin crew bespoke training on how to support those flying with a vision impairment (VI).
Guide Dogs will provide each cabin crew member with online resources incorporated into their wider training programme, to help improve accessibility for those travelling with sight loss.
The collaboration launches as new research of 250 Brits with sight loss revealed that three-fifths (59%) would like to travel abroad more, however, almost seven in ten (68%) are reluctant to travel by plane because of previous negative experiences.
In response, to being asked what would improve the travel experience, 65% said that they’d like to see airlines undertake training to understand how they can better support passengers with visual impairments and the majority (84%) said they’d feel more comfortable with air travel if cabin crew were better educated.
The training of Virgin Atlantic crew will cover topics from how to approach someone with sight loss, to navigating narrow or busy spaces, stairs, steps, and doorways, to taking a seat.
It will also focus on the best position on the aircraft for guide dogs to rest on their long journeys.
Virgin Atlantic’s people will also have opportunities to participate in more in-depth practical training where they will learn to safely guide someone with sight loss with confidence, skill, and empathy.
“We’re delighted to be working with Virgin Atlantic and hope our long-term partnership will put in place improvements that will tangibly impact the lives of those with sight loss for the better,” said John Welshman, Customer Experience Lead for Guide Dogs.
“By proving advice to cabin crew and having them undertake sighted guide training, we hope blind and partially sighted passengers will have the confidence to travel as fully and independently as possible.”