Big Big Surprise on QANTAS Flight 676 Aircraft from Melbourne to Sydney Today 1/4/2014
Flying back from Melbourne to Sydney this afternoon after attending the Vision 2014 International Low Vision Conference hosted by Vision Australia where I was an Accessibility Ambassador On the Apple iHouse interactive stand.
boarded the aircraft, got in the seat, person I was travelling with commented that the inflight entertainment system was an iPad, and ask me to try it out for accessibility.
Once the aircraft was up up and away, took the iPad out of the seat pocket in front of me, pressed the Home button on the iPad 3 times without to much expectation, and VoiceOver came on.
Ok, so VoiceOver was now talking on the iPad, 100 dollar question, was the actual inflight system running on the iPad accessible: again, reluctant to get to excited: it was great that they had even bothered to make the Home button turn on with VoiceOver.
Touched the screen, and the inflight entertainment system that was being used on the 767 was accessible with the use of VoiceOver. I could not believe it. I kept saying to the person I was travelling with me that I couldn’t believe it, after all this time, I had the same level of access that everyone else had onboard the aircraft. I think for the first 15 minutes of just laying with the interface, I had tears in my eyes.
The inflight entertainment system is web (HTML) based, with a menu going down the left hand side of the screen which contained:
Movies, TV shows, Music, Kids Corner, Radio, and Information. Selecting an item brings up further choices that you can choose from, and then watch/listen to the content on subsequent pages/screens. Whilst the content was playing, of course, I was still able to use Voiceover as the audio duct underneath what VoiceOver was saying, as it does with other audio content. I could go back to the previous page/screen, and also go back to the main menu.
I had to play with all of the menu items, and I could use every one of them. As it was an HTML based system, besides the usual VoiceOver gestures of navigating the screen, I could also use specific VoiceOver rotor gestures to navigate to headings, buttons, and links very quickly.
The flight felt very short as I just got lost in the experience of having full access for the first time to an actual entertainment system onboard an aircraft. Once I got off, I immediately tweeted and posted to Facebook my unbelievable experience.
QANTAS needs to be congratulated, and as far as I am concerned, it would not have happened unless the actual device being used was able to be fully accessible, which of course the iPad is.
Even writing this blog entry, I still can’t quite believe that it has happened, and no, it's not an April Fools joke.
As far as I understand, all QANTAS 767s that utilise the iPad, will be accessible.