Access to transport is a recognized right for all people, but today there are still significant difficulties for people with disabilities and reduced mobility—including elderly—to access air transport services. This prevalence is expected to increase due to demographic trends and increases in chronic health conditions, among other factors. The World Health Organization estimated a total of 1.3 billion people—or one in six people worldwide—experiencing significant disability by the end of 2022.

ACI World’s Accessibility Enhancement Accreditation (AEA) program provides a continuous path of improvement for airports in the area of accessibility for passengers with disabilities.

It is designed to help airports measure, evaluate, and improve their accessibility management and culture, and it is the only international assessment/accreditation program dedicated to airport accessibility to passengers with disabilities.

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Airport benefits

The Accessibility Enhancement Accreditation (AEA) provides several benefits to airports of all sizes, in every region of the world:

Facilitates access to a safe and positive travelling experience for travellers with disabilities

Showcases an airport's inclusive culture

Helps airports incorporate the concepts of Universal Design in line with the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and their national regulations

Assists airports in implementing existing global best practices and recommendations, including those put forward in the ACI Airport and Persons with Disability Handbook

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Accreditation content

It is imperative that airports ensure they are prioritizing National Regulations on the matter of accessibility. The program is based on existing international best practices and recommendations, including those put forward in the ACI Airport and Persons with Disability Handbook, the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), and Universal Design concepts.

The accreditation covers improvement in the following areas:

Accessibility policy plans and governance

Airport design and infrastructure

Organizational culture and operations

Airport stakeholders and partners

Information, Communication and Technologies (ICT) to support the passenger journey

Customer experience

Forms of disabilities considered in the program:

Physical

Restricted growth

Users of pacemakers

Dexterity & agility difficulties

Epilepsy

Respiratory conditions

Temporary injuries

People with reduced mobility

Hearing

Deaf
Require hearing aid
Lack of specific frequencies
Distorted hearing such as Tinnitus

Visual

Blind
Color-blind
Partially sighted
Short or long-sighted
Distorted vision, lack of depth of field

Mental development, intellectual

Learning disabilities
Dyslexia and dyspraxia
ADHD
Dementia and Alzheimer's
Anxiety and depression
Psychosis
Autism spectrum

Accreditation levels

The journey to improve airports' accessibility

Level 1

Indicates airport's corporate commitment to accessibility services through its strategy, policies, and initial implementations. Covers in large part, the services for people with reduced mobility.

Level 2

Indicates airport is prioritizing accessibility through an accessibility plan, governance framework, and training. Provides services for several disabilities and enhances the passenger journey through Digital Accessibility or Universal Design.

Level 3

Indicates airport and its partners' commitment to accessibility by aiming to continuously enhance a seamless travel experience through innovation, Digital Accessibility, Universal Design, and the establishment of an inclusive culture for all types of disabilities.

Accreditation process

The process usually takes one to two weeks from request to completion, depending on the size of the airport and the length of time taken by the airport to gather the supporting evidence.

The accreditation includes the following steps:

Questionnaire: airports complete and submit a questionnaire developed with the support of the ACI Accessibility Advisory Group, which includes representatives from member airports, training providers, consultants, and accessibility organizations. Supporting evidence must also be submitted.

Online interview / assessment: independent subject matter experts perform an online validation interview and evaluate the questionnaires, providing recommendations and/or approving the accreditation.

Certificate: provided by ACI and valid for 3 years.

Updates and reviews: performed during the validity period of the accreditation.

For questions about the Accessibility Enhancement Accreditation program, email assessments.accreditations@aci.aero.

Testimonials

"We take great pride in our achievement as the first airport in North America and the second in the world to secure ACI’s accreditation under its Accessibility Enhancement Accreditation (AEA) program. It signifies our dedication to ensuring that every traveller can experience the joys of air travel through a safe and welcoming airport experience. Thanks to ACI’s comprehensive process, we meticulously assessed, evaluated, and enhanced our accessibility programs and services. As the sole international accreditation program of its kind dedicated to airport accessibility, it allowed us to tailor our practices to meet the specific needs of Toronto Pearson's environment and align with global industry standards."

- Kurush Minocher, Executive Director, Customer Experience and Airline Relations at Greater Toronto Airports Authority

"At MSP we’re committed to continuously improving accessibility and addressing service gaps throughout the passenger experience, with the hope these innovations become standard practice across the airport industry. We joined the Accessibility Enhancement Accreditation Program because it is based on international best practices and provides recommendations across multiple areas of accessibility including policies, infrastructure design, organizational structure, and customer experience, among others. This program provides support and recommendations specifically tailored to the airport industry, enhancing its maturity level in accessibility."

- Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport

"This accreditation was much more than a simple recognition for ADM Aéroports de Montréal. The process has acted as a catalyst for improving our accessibility services at YUL Montreal-Trudeau International Airport, offering smoother, more enjoyable travel for all passengers. It has also provided us with access to an international network of airports committed to accessibility. We now have access to the best standards in the industry, reinforcing our determination to continually evolve."

- Stephane Lapierre, Vice President Airport Operations and Air Services Development at Montreal-Trudeau International Airport

"Participating in the Accessibility Accreditation has solidified Hamad International Airport’s commitment to continuous improvement and providing world-class facilities and services to our passengers. The program has allowed us to conduct a critical review of internal processes and identify opportunities for improvement, while providing guidelines to implement best practices from across the industry. Though we recognise that implementing changes in process, policy and strategy could create new challenges, ACI’s Accreditation program provides practical examples on how to action these changes and improvements."

- Doha Hamad International Airport

Participant airports