Birmingham Airport wins Autism Friendly Award

Birmingham Airport has been named an Autism Friendly airport by the National Autistic Society.

This was awarded following work by OCS Group and Autism West Midlands to ensure the airport offers a friendly environment for passengers with autism along with support services that target the accessibility needs of the passengers and their families.

The Autism Friendly Award recognises the success of Birmingham Airport, OCS Group and Autism West Midlands in providing assistance that improves the experience at the airport for passengers with autism, their families and caregivers. Birmingham Airport, OCS Group and Autism West Midlands have worked together to ensure clear information is available for passengers with autism about the airport, how to plan their journey and how to access assistance at the terminal.

Michael Connolly, regional training and standards manager for OCS Group’s Aviation and Gateways Business, has worked on a range of initiatives to improve the service to disabled people at UK airports, including projects at Birmingham Airport to improve the experience for passengers with hidden disabilities, such as autism. In 2017, the UK’s Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health, Penny Mordaunt, named Michael Connolly as the sector champion for disability issues in air transport.

“OCS Group is the largest provider of assistance to persons with reduced mobility (PRM) in the UK and Ireland, and helps over one million passengers at nine airports each year” said Michael Connolly of OCS Group. “That level of experience means we understand that travelling through a busy airport can be a challenging experience for passengers with autism.  This award is recognition of our focus on delivering an efficient and sensitive service that responds to the individual needs of all disabled passengers, including those with autism.”

More than 1 in 100 people in the UK have autism. The National Autistic Society’s Autism Friendly Award recognises organisations who commit to making sure that visitors with autism receive the same warm welcome as everybody else.

In 2016, The Challenging for Change report, commissioned by OCS, recorded the experiences of 543 passengers with disabilities and made recommendations for improvement. The report has been followed up with workshops at airports around the UK at which airlines, airport operators, baggage handlers, disability groups and support service providers exchanged ideas to address the issues.

The Challenging for Change report is available for download from the website below

OCS Group welcomes consultations, comments and feedback on the proposed recommendations, which can be sent to the email below:[email protected]


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