University of Maryland


EZ Access Featured in Accessible Airport Paging System

March 30th, 2005

The first fully accessible paging and information system has been deployed at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. This groundbreaking system was developed by ARINC Incorporated, a leader in transportation communications and systems engineering, and implements Trace’s EZ Access technology.

Airport visitors will now be able to send and receive messages at Paging Assistance Locations, or “PALs,” using a keyboard or touch screen. For those who can’t use the keyboard or touch screen, there is an audio version of what is on the screen and an EZ Access keypad that allows navigation of the touch screen through the use of only four buttons. The information is also available via a phone handset and information operator. The names of those being paged are both announced through speakers inside the terminal and displayed on monitors throughout the airport, allowing people with vision and hearing impairments to receive pages.

“I think as soon as travelers experience the new system at Sky Harbor and how convenient and wonderful it is, you’re going to see systems like this everywhere,” said Phoenix City Councilwoman Peggy Bilsten. Sky Harbor has long been a leader in providing accessibility through careful physical design and the provision of accessible services. It currently ranks as the world’s 6th busiest airport, serving nearly 40 million passengers a year.

“This is the first airport information system that is accessible and usable by all airport patrons, including those who are older and those with disabilities,” said Gregg Vanderheiden, Director of the Trace Center. “We were very pleased to provide assistance on this project, and commend both ARINC and Sky Harbor for their commitment to accessibility.”

EZ Access is a set of interface enhancements that can be implemented in the design of almost any electronic product. These enhancements include simple interactive techniques and hardware components that can make products usable by more people, including those with disabilities. EZ Access was developed over the past six years as an outgrowth of the Trace Center’s ongoing research and development on how to design standard information systems and products so that they are accessible for people with disabilities.

The Trace Center is part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has worked in the field of disability and technology for 33 years. Funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, Trace is the leading center for research in the area of accessibility of standard information and telecommunications technologies.

CONTACT: Kate Vanderheiden (608-265-4621;