United Airlines Redesigns Mobile App to be More Accessible for People with Visual Disabilities

We’re proud to launch a redesigned version of our United app to make it easier for customers with visual disabilities to manage all aspects of day-of travel, including check-in, viewing reservation details and flight status, bag tracking and more.

This latest version of our app is now available to both Android and iOS users, and it offers increased colour contrast and more space between graphics. Furthermore, we have reorganized how information is displayed and announced to better integrate with screen reader technologies like VoiceOver and TalkBack, which are built into most handheld devices. By restructuring the way the information is organized on the app, screen readers are better able to convert text to audio in the proper, logical sequence, allowing customers to better understand and navigate the app.

“The parts of the travel experience that we all take for granted like checking luggage, getting your flight status and accessing a boarding pass can still be a challenge for someone with a visual disability,” said EVP of Technology and Chief Digital Officer Linda Jojo. “These new accessibility enhancements are part of our continuing commitment to level the playing field, unlock all the customer benefits of our app and give people with disabilities more independence while travelling.”

Senior Accessibility Analyst Ray Campbell is a member of United’s digital team who’s visually impaired and sits on the board of the American Council of the Blind. He played a key role in helping us redesign the app. He even put the app to the test as seen in this video.

“Optimizing mobile apps for tools such as VoiceOver and TalkBack has been a game-changer, allowing people with visual disabilities to fully utilize smartphone technology in their daily lives,” said Ray. “It’s just as important for someone with a visual disability to easily access day-of-travel information and features as for any other customer. Improving the accessibility of the United app, helps us truly live out United’s mission of caring for all customers.”

United's Senior Accessibility Analyst Ray Campbell using the mobile app at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.
United’s Senior Accessibility Analyst Ray Campbell using the mobile app at Chicago O’Hare International Airport. | Image courtesy of United Airlines

Beyond the accessibility changes, our digital team enhanced the current offering while keeping the features that helped the app win a Webby People’s Voice award in 2019.

  • For our MileagePlus® program members, the app now features a refreshed account experience for members to easily check balances, track Premier® progress, explore MileagePlus benefits, access past activity and more, all in one place.
  • The airline is also expanding a popular feature previously only accessible to MileagePlus members. Now, all 37 million customers who have the United app will see a contextualized home screen starting 48 hours before their flight which provides dynamic updates based on where a customer is in their travel journey. For example, customers can see the boarding status of their flight on their homescreen, access personal device entertainment onboard with one click, find a link to a map with gate-to-gate directions for connecting flights and click a quick access button to track any checked bags upon arrival.
  • We made slight tweaks to navigation based on customer feedback to make the app more intuitive, including making the bottom navigation persistent throughout the app. Another example is the “More” menu, which was reorganized and now contains the “Inbox” feature, which includes timely messages about boarding announcements, gate changes and other travel updates.
  • Customers will notice a new colour palette that’s consistent with the refreshed branding the airline debuted in 2019. United’s digital team also made subtle design adjustments to make things more consistent and easier to find, like always using a purple bar to highlight the main call-to-action on a page and ensuring alerts and flight status icons appear the same way in every page on the app.
    All of these changes are underpinned by a new back-end platform, which will ultimately make the app faster and more responsive.

The redesigned app is now available to download for iPhone®, iPad® and iPod touch® devices (as an iPhone app) and for Android devices.

Source:  United Airlines

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