Airline fined for not making safety video accessible to patients with hearing loss

VirginAmericaInFlight5WASHINGTON, DC—Few seasoned flyers pay much attention to the in-flight safety video or demonstration that is presented at the start of every commercial flight. However, that doesn’t excuse airlines from presenting them—and in a way that is accessible to passengers who can’t hear.

That’s why in September the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) fined Virgin America $150,000 for failing to make its safety video accessible to passengers with hearing impairments.

A DOT Aviation Enforcement Office investigation found that since October 2007, when Virgin America began scheduled service, its pre-flight safety video did not have either open captioning or an inset for a sign language interpreter. This violated DOT’s requirement that safety briefings be accessible to passengers with hearing impairments.

In addition to the fine, the DOT ordered Virgin America to cease and desist from further violations. The company agreed to add high-contrast captioning to its video by September 30.

The California-based company operates a fleet of 53 aircraft to 23 destinations. Richard Branson’s Virgin Group owns 25% of the company.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “Safety is our number-one priority, and that includes ensuring that every airline passenger has access to airline safety briefings. We will continue to take enforcement action when our disability rules are violated so that all passengers are aware of critical, potentially life-saving information.”