How WAA is shaping a more inclusive airport environment

June 4, 2021

Categories: At YWG

An individual participating in the passenger rehearsal program on the Departures Level

To reflect the diverse needs of its entire community, Winnipeg Airports Authority along with its partners are continually working to further enhance accessibility at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport. Here are some of the services and supports available at YWG to better serve all travellers and visitors so everyone can anticipate an excellent airport experience:

Passenger Rehearsal Program
The Passenger Rehearsal Program at YWG marks the first sustained, individualized service of its kind at any airport in Canada. The goal of the program is to help travellers with disabilities who may require additional support feel confident and comfortable ahead of their next trip. Each one-on-one tour of the airport is customized to mirror a traveller’s upcoming itinerary so they can familiarize themselves with the entire passenger experience before their next flight.

To bring the Passenger Rehearsal Program to life, WAA sought a security exemption from Transport Canada to allow individuals taking a tour to move past security. This initiative not only benefits travellers at YWG, but also opens the door for other airports to consider introducing similar programs.

To sign up for the Passenger Rehearsal Program, please email or call 204-987-9402 well in advance of your trip.

Through a smart device or video-equipped smart glasses, Aira connects people who are blind or have low vision to trained live agents who provide them with real-time visual information. This service helps travellers navigate through the airport, interpret signs and locate gates, shops or washrooms. YWG was one of the first airports in the country to make Aira available. To use the service, download the free Aira app and follow the prompts on the screen of your smart device.

Using pictures and plain language text, MagnusCards provides step-by-step instructions to help travellers with autism or other intellectual disabilities navigate common airport processes, like going through security or boarding a plane. Before your trip, download the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport card decks on the free MagnusCards app. If you do not have a smart device, you can pick up physical cards at the Information Booth located on the Arrivals Level.

By 2038, one in three travellers will need some form of assistance according to data gathered from the International Air Transport Association’s Global Passenger Survey in 2019. To help meet the future needs of the community, YWG has partnered with a group of Winnipeg-based developers to test a self-driving wheelchair. To date, three rounds of trials have been performed at the airport by WHILL, the Japanese manufacturer of the mobility device which has its North American headquarters in Winnipeg. Feedback from each test is then sent around the world to teams working on a common goal – produce an innovative piece of technology to create a seamless airport experience from curb to gate.

mYWG Accessibility Committee
To support all the initiatives helping to shape a more inclusive environment at the airport, WAA steers an accessibility committee, which includes representatives from organizations in the community that work with people with disabilities on a daily basis. The work of the entire committee helped WAA land a 2020 Manitoba Accessibility Award and be recognized for the Passenger Rehearsal Program with a Best Overall Customer Experience Program Award from Airport Council International North America.

Passengers with mobility or accessibility assistance requests should continue to contact their airline at least 48 hours ahead of their flight to notify them of their needs and make arrangements.


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