As Winnipeg Airports Authority continues to work to ensure travel is accessible for everyone, a unique event took place earlier this week to gain firsthand feedback from community members.
On September 29, a group of 16 volunteers with different individual needs moved through the experience of catching a domestic flight out of Winnipeg Richardson International Airport. The exercise, which was hosted by WAA and sponsored by Air Canada, helped raise awareness of barriers that may exist for individuals with disabilities and also accessibility services available inside the airport to support travellers.
"What was nice about it was that the stress a person with a disability faces when travelling was taken off," said Tracy Garbutt, a volunteer participant who is blind. "It allowed me to learn about a few new things and make me feel more comfortable for the next time I fly. It's great events like this are being put on to help improve accessibility."
The participants had to check-in for a flight, go through security procedures and fully navigate each step of the passenger experience up to boarding an aircraft. Representatives from WAA and a number of community organizations followed along to see how each stage unfolded and to offer support if needed.
While there are many accessibility measures in place at the airport, such as the Aira service or the new Passenger Rehearsal Program, it is important to continue to find meaningful ways to support accessible travel and make sure everyone can enjoy a positive airport experience.
After moving through the travelling experience, all participants filled out a survey to share their thoughts and perspectives. These survey responses will be used to guide future plans to help enhance accessibility and inclusivity at YWG.
In the past year, WAA has explored a number of new partnerships to enhance accessibility at the airport and help ensure the services on-site reflect the needs of the community at large. These efforts, paired with the ongoing work of the mYWG Accessibility Committee, are continuing to add up to offer a more welcoming environment for all at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport.