Research Projects

Assessing the effectiveness of airport services/programs for passengers with disabilities In Reserve

Although many airports are offering services, programs and amenities along with innovative design and technological development to optimize access and mobility of passengers with disabilities and aging travelers, there is no systematic assessment of the effectiveness of these services and programs. Empirical evidence about the cost and benefits of these programs are needed for further and wider implementation of services and programs that assist passengers to successfully navigate through airports.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

There have been several ACRP synthesis and research projects conducted to identify and study airports current effort in assisting passengers with disabilities and aging travelers to navigate through airports and use airport services. However, none of them have conducted a systematic assessment that demonstrates the effectiveness of these programs and services. Currently, airports mainly depend on anecdotal evidence including lack of customer complaints and limited customer feedback to gauge the success of these services. The proposed research will address this gap by providing detailed evaluation of these programs and services to assist with airports decision making when implementing these programs and services.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

This study will use a mixed-method approach:

  1. Qualitative interviews (personal and/or focus group interviews) with different stakeholder groups including airport management and personnel, airline management and personnel, and third-party services. Main purpose is to understand the process involved in implementing the services/program/amenities/design/technology under study, costs associated with the implementation and benefits as perceived from the suppliers' perspectives.
  2. Site visits for case studies: The main purpose is to obtained detailed information from selected airports so the research team will have a comprehensive understanding of the process involved for the implementation of services and programs for passengers with disabilities.
  3. Qualitative interviews (personal and/or focus group interviews) will also be conducted among organizations representing people with disabilities, and travelers with disabilities and aging travelers. The main purpose is to identify the benefits of existing airport programs/services/amenities/design/technology to enhance the travel experience of people with disabilities. Specific benefits will be identified for further validation.
  4. Quantitative data collection from passengers with disabilities and aging travelers. The main purpose is to validate the benefits identified in the qualitative studies among a larger sample.
  5. Expert Panel Method: An expert panel (8-12 people) will review all study's results to determine best practices and suggest implementation strategies.
Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)

Estimated Total: $500,000
Principle Investigator and Co-Investigator salary and fringe benefits (2 people): $100,000
Other personnel in the research team: statistician for data analysis, additional interviewers, technical writer and editor: $50,000
Interviews/focus groups and site visits (including travel): $30,000
Quantitative data collection: $10,000
Expert Panel (8-12 people): $30,000
Indirect to cover costs for equipment, facilities, utilities, administrative support: $280,000

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.

As PI, I recently conducted a synthesis (#07-02) which aims to identify current communication strategies and best practices of airports in enhancing the travel experience of customers with disabilities, aging travelers and travelers with limited English Proficiency. One important result emerged from the project is a clear lack of empirical assessment of the current programs and services implemented at airports for the purpose of enhancing the travel experience of people with disabilities. Consequently, the synthesis is not able to conclude on what program/service is best practice. In addition, I am a co-investigator on ACRP 01-31 which is to study the innovative solutions of airports in addressing the needs of passengers with disabilities. Although the study examines a comprehensive list of innovative approaches used by airports to address the needs of passengers with disabilities, it does not assess the effectiveness of any of the services/programs. Other ACRP studies such as ACRP 51, ACRP 177 mainly have focused on the needs of people with disabilities and aging travelers, and have recommended strategies for airports to meet these passengers' needs. None, however, has evaluated the effectiveness of services/programs implemented. Synthesis 07-02 clearly indicates the need for empirical data to assist with airports' decisions on what program/service/technology to adopt in order to meet the needs of passengers with different abilities.

Idea No. 154