Captioning in Transportation – Air Travel and More

2017 saw more activity from DOT to implement some of the new guidelines for captioning on board. There’s still a long way to go, and for captioning in airports too.
Here’s one report today on social media: “As seen on an upgraded United Airlines inflight entertainment system en route to Geneva: Searching for accessible content is now a toplevel option on the home screen, right along with the options for featured content and entertainment, and is impossible to miss. You can search for both captioned and audio-described content. Clearly, the negotiations between industry and consumers under DoT from a year and a half ago are starting to have an effect.” (from C. Volger).
DECEMBER 12 2016
it’s reported that the DOT advisory committee has reached decisions favoring communication access – read more now:
NOVEMBER 2016 Told by friend at JET BLUE captioning now on 20 planes and to be rolled out for entire fleet soon, read
Anyone flying AA? Tell us if there are captions now please.
June 8, 2016: Letter of Support for one passenger representing mega-millions of us who fly the skies globally, and use American Airlines. He starts Twitter campaign and aims to talk directly with AA about lack of any CC on IFE (in flight entertainment). on recent flight (New York to Austin). Air travel, including all IFE, must be accessible. Read more below. CCAC tweets to AA today for this issue (tweets and this notice are the “letter” of support. We welcome a reply from AA ( – official non-profit, all volunteer citizen advocates internationally).  
CONTINUING CCAC ADVOCACY FOR AIR TRAVEL ACCESS! LOOKING FORWARD TO GOOD PROGRESS IN 2016 after conferring with consultant to Department of Transportation. Since 2010 CCAC volunteer citizen advocates ask for quality captioning in air transportation and offer information about airlines that have captioning in-flight – see below also. 

April 6 2016 -The Department of Transportation has now posted its Federal Register Notice reporting its decision to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee to seek consensus recommendations on three sets of issues:  definition of service animal, accessibility of in-flight entertainment, and accessibility of lavatories on certain single-aisle aircraft.

Docket No. DOT OST 2015-0246 and it looks like our requests for discussion of in-flight Announcements to become accessible with text is under consideration too. Full documents in CCAC Member Forum online.
Join the CCAC Team to find solutions, access and inclusion! Collaborations with other groups welcome, as always. Email:
12/23/15: CCAC met with Dr. Richard Parker who is coordinating this activity for the DOT: Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel; Consideration of Negotiated Rulemaking Process.  

Read more about above on!documentDetail;D=DOT-OST-2015-0246-0001

12/22/15: CCAC submitted a Comment Letter to the DOT as follows:

“For the DOT concerning Air Carrier Access Act Implementation – Docket No. DOT OST 2015-0246

We were pleased to see the announcement and also the notice of intent!documentDetail;D=DOT-OST-2015-0246-0001 pertaining to Air Travel Access.

For the membership of the CCAC ( and many others, we submit these concerns:

IFE must become accessible with quality captioning that offers reasonable choices to all airline passengers since, as paying passengers, we and the airlines benefit from accessible in-flight entertainments. However, IFE seems a too-narrow focus for this Negotiated Rulemaking Process.

Importantly and in addition to IFE concerns, we strongly suggest two other areas that are vital for access and inclusion of people with hearing loss and deafness who use captioning for understanding speech – (1) airport announcements and also (2) in-flight announcements.

Safety in airports and in-flight also are surely major concerns for everyone. Announcements in the airport, always considered essential for air travel, need to become visible with quality speech-to-text (live captioning). Sudden emergencies of any sort, gate changes after arriving at gates (not to miss the flight), and any other airport announcements can use existing technologies to create access with live captioning, not only for deaf and hard of hearing people, but also for so many with different first languages or other conditions that use captioning for comprehension (e.g. autism, tinnitus, auditory perceptual differences).

Similarly, we argue that in-flight announcements are vital for safety and equal communication access in-flight. Information access of any and all announcements is required. Not only people who are deaf or have a hearing loss need this information, live and real-time; there are many others in-flight (hearing also) who do not understand these announcements, and safety and calm environments in-flight are just as important as always, for everyone.

We hope that the DOT agrees and finds ways to include these concerns along with IFE matters.
Lauren E. Storck (PhD).
President, Collaborative for Communication Access via Captioning ( – Volunteer Citizen Captioning Advocates, Official 501(c)3 Non-Profit Organization.


Since 2010 CCAC advocates for Air Travel Access. See Letter below.
November 2015 we welcome advocacy called #deafintheair also. Check it out on Twitter.
For MORE about AIRTRAVELACCESS, with listing of Airlines, see below. Email the CCAC to talk – let’s push this forward.
Newest Spreadsheet from Rachel, CCAC team member too – coming soon here!
Meanwhile, see lots of airline information down the page.
EARLIER CCAC EFFORT HERE FROM MARCH 23, 2010! CCAC ONE OF SIGNATURES ON THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENT CONTACT AAPR for more information. Many of same points made by Senator Harkin’s Bills in US Congress again 2012 and included in the CCAC FLYER also.

Dear Secretary LaHood,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Association for Airline Passenger Rights (“AAPR”) and the undersigned organizations to request that the U.S. Department of Transportation (“DOT”) require commercial air carriers to provide accessibility on all in-flight entertainment for their deaf and hard-of-hearing passengers and for passengers with vision loss. While DOT requires that captioning be available on all safety and information related videos, it does not enforce the same accessibility standard for in-flight entertainment, such as movies and television shows. Furthermore, much of this video material already included captioning or subtitles and may also have included video description, used by people with vision loss. We contend that by not ensuring pass through of available captioning and video description, DOT has created two
separate, yet unequal standards, one for passengers with sensory disabilities and another for passengers without sensory Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) – including changes made by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-325) – covers public accommodations, including businesses that are public accommodations, privately operated transportation, and commercial facilities. The ADA mandates public accommodations must comply with basic nondiscrimination requirements that prohibit exclusion, segregation, and unequal treatment. They also must comply with specific requirements related to, among other things, reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures; effective communication with people with hearing, vision, or speech disabilities; and other access requirements.

Aside from the ADA, the 1986 Air Carrier Access Act (“ACAA”) – 49 U.S.C. § 41705 – requires certain accommodations for passengers who are deaf and hard-of-hearing. The ACAA states that where safety briefings are presented to passengers on video screens in the aircraft, the carrier shall ensure that the video presentation is accessible to persons with hearing impairments by using open captioning or an inset for a sign language interpreter as part of the video presentation, or by closed captioning.

Passengers with sensory disabilities, such as people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and passengers who are blind, lose value on their tickets when they cannot enjoy the in-flight entertainment on board because of the failure to ensure pass through of any available captioning or video description. It is not right that they have to pay a full fare and not receive the same service as average passengers. Passengers with sensory disabilities travel a lot so they should be given the same consideration by the airlines as other customers. We question whether it is fair or ethical that they have to sit through long flights, forced to miss whatever is being displayed on the in-flight entertainment while other customers are able to enjoy the services to the fulle…

We know that the technology exists to make in-flight entertainment accessible for passengers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and for passengers with vision disabilities. At least two equipment vendors of in-flight entertainment systems have demonstrated caption display capability in their products and services and deployment has occurred on at least one airline. As you may know, video description is the narration of key visual elements inserted by content providers into the natural pauses in dialogue to help low-vision viewers to better understand the story. Many movies and TV programs now
include this form of accessibility.

Last year, DOT issued new regulations governing ACAA’s accessibility standards. Under Subpart E of the regulations, which were effective on May 13, 2009, air carriers must ensure that all new videos, DVDs, and other audio-visual displays played on aircraft for safety purposes, and all such new audio-visual displays played on aircraft for informational purposes that were created under their control, are high-contrast captioned. The captioning must be in the predominant language or languages in which they communicate with passengers on the flight. It is our belief that DOT missed an important opportunity to require this same accessibility standard extend to in-flight entertainment, too.

At that time, DOT recognized the value of requiring captioning (or subtitles) because it promised to issue a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to get an update on the further development of technology for captioning in the air. As it stands now, DOT has left it to the discretion of the air carriers to implement captioning or subtitles on all non-emergency in-flight entertainment.

Additionally, it is our belief that DOT failed to consider the needs of passengers with vision loss when it did not also require pass through of any available video description.

We contend that in 2010, nearly twenty years after the signing of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, commercial airlines should make a good-faith effort to make these accommodations to their paying customers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, or with vision disabilities, so that all aspects of flying are accessible to them. In the absence of the airlines voluntarily making their in-flight entertainment more accessible, DOT should uphold the spirit of the law and require all commercial airlines to improve customer service for all passengers.

We the undersigned organizations look forward to working with you to correct this inequity. Thank you.
Brandon M. Macsata
Executive Director, Association for Airline Passenger Rights (AAPR) , Washington, DC 20003, Visit us on the web:

The article below provided by John Waldo and the WA-CAP in Washington State, USA. It is an illustration of the sort of captioning inclusion we need in many forms of transportation, e.g., ferries, trains, buses, airplanes, cruise ships.

Washington State Ferries, the nation’s largest ferry system, will shortly install a system to display visually the content of announcements made at its terminals and onboard its vessels. The system will be tested on board the two large boats serving the Seattle-Bainbridge Island crossing, and at the Bainbridge and Seattle terminals, for a six-month test, and if successful, will then be installed system-wide.

The ferry system makes a considerable number of announcements over public-address systems on its boats and at its terminals. While some are routine and relatively unimportant, others can be quite specific and very important, dealing with matters like lost objects, cars with lights or alarms on, vessel delays, or changes in loading or unloading procedures. Those announcements have often been inaccessible to riders with hearing loss.

Aurally delivered information can be made available to individuals with hearing loss by converting that information to written form and displaying it visually. That involves a two-step process, either of which can be problematic. First, the information has to be “captured” and put into written form. Second, the information has to be displayed in a manner visible to people who need to know what is being said.

For the ferry system, the display part was easy — there are ample places to put television monitors or other devices to show announcements. The difficult issue was the “capture” –  discovering how best to put the messages in written form.

The firm with which WSF is contracting, Four Winds Interactive from Denver, is going to address that problem with a drop-down menu that will allow the crew to make the message specific without needing to do much, if any, keyboard entry. The standard boarding, welcome and safety messages will all be prepared in advance in written form. For variable messages like “car alarm”, the program will display a menu of auto makes and colors, and can indicate the deck of the ferry on which the car is located. Similarly, the “lost object” menu can specify whether the item is a wallet, cell phone, keys, or other object.

The test system should be installed on the Bainbridge boats and the Bainbridge and Seattle terminals by mid-December, according to WSF officials. The timing is particularly appropriate, because those boats are often crowded with holiday shoppers even at mid-day, and the more crowded and noisy the boats, the greater the need for the information broadcast over the public-address system to be made visually accessible to people with less than perfect hearing.

Installation of the visual paging system is being done to resolve a lawsuit that the Washington State Communication Access Project (Wash-CAP) brought against WSF in 2008. The suit was quickly resolved in the form of an agreed order signed by the court. WSF has been working promptly and diligently to implement the terms of that order, and deserves our commendation and thanks.


We need real time text for transport information in airplanes and airports, buses, trains, taxis, and more. Please share your concerns with the CCAC in our Blog (, or e-mail us. See below for more about Air Travel also.
CCAC members are working on this captioning advocacy issue for subways in some places.
In some European countries, local bus routes ALL have captioning – pre-recorded, yet it really helps. CCAC wants to “hear” from you. Quality speech to text, real time or prepared in advance – makes our lives that much more safe, healthy and sustainable. We can travel, contribute and create lots of good things, we are able. 

Air Travel – lots of interest in access with Captions for Movies on board, TV shows on board, Airport and airline announcements. Domestic and International flights, both.
Please share anything you know via email to CCAC, in addition to below.  Complex issues, yet can be quite simple campaign to start with to raise awareness and advocate. Discuss here or email to with your ideas and action plans.
On board flights, there are safety instructions, TV shows, films, and announcements from the crew. CCAC suggests all need access via quality captioning.
Turkish Airlines has captioning in English and Turkish for safety instructions on board, but not for films.
United -4/13 report from CCAC friend that Direct TV on overseas flights now have cc (for television programs). Re films, information requested….
American – no captions except for safety instructions (domestic and international)
Delta – Delta has added captioning in English and either Spanish or the language of destination to all safety demonstration videos. No information re TV or films on board.
(Delta on long haul flights – unclear info even re safety videos).
Swiss Air has excellent cartoons for the safety instructions, in three languages (English, French, Italian);
Royal Thai airlines flight safety instruction has both sign language and captioning.
Cathay Pacific is reported to have some captioning.
El Al has Hebrew captions in its in-flight movies.
BA shows captioned movies/films on many flights. Recent flight Boston USA to London UK had 4 of 41 films with subtitles.
Emirates shows captioned films also it’s reported.
Qantas ditto for films on international flights.
More on Qantas from CCAC member 4/13:QANTAS displays captions on screens in the terminal as well as captions for the news bulletin which is for domestic flights only. The quality of the captions in-flight are excellent because they are pre-captioned, whereas in the terminal the captions are generally live and the quality is variable.  This occurred many years ago and was facilitated by Media Access Australia’s late Chairman, who had worked for QANTAS in a senior role.QANTAS have also recently been trialing use of iPads and Apple devices on some flights with a new audiovisual streaming service. QANTAS had not turned on the ‘Voice Over’ function and this was picked up by Australia’s Disability Discrimination Commissioner, who  is blind and travels exclusively with QANTAS.
Virgin ditto for films.
All Nippon Airways (ANA) with United: Washington D.C. to Taipei, Taiwan: Neither IAD, Tokyo Narita, and Taipei Taoyuan international airports had captioning of intercom announcements. Videtaped safety instructions with captioning on newer United planes.
(Reporter believes new United plane also had U. S. movies with captions – yet not confirmed). Show, e.g. Japanese films with English subtitles.
Air Canada safety videos are bi-lingual (English/French), and so are the captions.
and AC domestic flights have French language movies (mostly from Quebec) that are captioned in English.International flights add a selection of “world” movies, also captioned.
JetBlue (Boston to Florida) – no captioning, no video at all for safety instructions.
American Airlines – domestic? international? Hearing it’s a no.
British Air information – they say they will update soon, e.g. see
Air New Zealand (June 2013) – two movies captioned, the rest weren’t on 12 hour flight (need more). Emirates do a better job.KLM – nothing except Dutch movies – subbed in every language except English, on the main movies,Singapore Airlines – nothing Captioned in English, but captions in other languages.  (boing flight).
NB: not all flights for any airline as above; depends on age of plane and the route perhaps, yet it’s good to know it is there and important to mention it/advocate for your self and others if it’s missing)
Reported that…many “long haul” flights (out of UK, Australia, and ?) have captioning on TV programs on board, e.g. British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Air France, Qantas
Continental flights – Closed caption TV available on Continental flights January 7, 2012 (and later in 2011 on some routes); domestic only – need info re full length films, anyone?
Request for information about systems on board, e.g. if cc used for TV, can it be used for movies/films during flight too? or ?
Feb 2013: Egypt Air
Flight from London to Cairo – Cairo to Luxor – Luxor to London
They are no captions in English for safety and films. 
Films advertise caption in English did not work only Arabic showing captions.
Access and clear communication awareness – poor

Access to safety instruction – spoken English and Arabic – sign language in Arabic
Monitor at back seat going out to Cairo – showing voice instruction in English and Arabic, Arabic signing in small box (too small) No access to safety for d/Deaf westerner travellers
No monitor from Cairo to Luxor and Luxor to London – monitor from ceiling too small to see signer and again lack safety instruction for d/Deaf westerners travellers

CCAC also participated in this earlier effort, see – Anyone have an update on this?
More volunteers needed for this AIR TRAVEL project. Email now. Guidelines such as the following;

Guidelines for Air Travel for Flyers with hearing loss, deafened, or deaf, and many more with language differences:

1) Subtitles on all video safety media. Fully captioned or subtitled with emergency instructions and all additional information given to all.
2) Real time text for all information and announcements during all flights.
3) Captioned video with some instructions to obtain visa upon entry into countries where needed (to be placed in passports, as is now done CCAC is told at airports in Russia, China, Egypt.)
4) and…add to this list via email to CCAC – many more airport departure, arrival, and on-board items need captioning –
Trains and Buses
From the UK it’s reported, “Trains in the UK have a lot of captions. These are standard captions saying the ‘next station will be…’ or this train is going to xxxx and calling at yyy, zzz etc’ These appear on London’s underground. The best captions (for reporter) were in Hong Kong where they showed a map of the route of the train with a green (I can’t remember what colour) line showing exactly where the Metro was. This appeared in Chinese as well as English. There are trains now operating from London’s Paddington station with ‘at seat’ monitors (on one coach only) showing films but these are not captioned. I mentioned this to someone working in the rail industry and he made enquiries and was told the screen was too small for captions!…”
March 2013 Train report – train from France to Italy stopped due to weather – passenger with hearing loss encountered huge delay and wrong route due to lack of text information.
Flyer for Air Travel Access