In March, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI) reintroduced the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act, intending to protect airplane passengers with disabilities, improving air travel safety and closing service gaps that passengers with disabilities frequently encounter in air travel. This legislation has long been needed to protect people who depend on mobility equipment, like wheelchairs, from the costly equipment damages that regularly happen when traveling on airlines.
The 2021 Air Carrier Access Amendments Act would improve air travel safety and close service gaps that passengers with disabilities face in air travel.
How many of our readers understand the level of hardship this type of airline damage causes to your personal lives? If social media comments on this topic are any indication, the majority of you do!
Mobility expert and paraplegic handcycle enthusiast Adam Lane says, “So many friends that have asked ‘what can I do to help?’ Here is a great opportunity to sign this form in support of this legislation. Air travel is difficult at best if you have a disability that requires a mobility device. The Air Carrier Access Amendment Act can help.”
Adam shares a significant point in noting that the hardship airlines often cause by damaging wheelchairs doesn’t only apply to people who depend on them for daily independence. The medical equipment industry segment known as Complex Rehab Technology incurs hundreds of thousands of dollars in annually preventable expenses due to the high occurrence of airline damages to mobility equipment.
Those hundred of thousands of dollars are billed to Medicare and Medicaid or your private insurance every single time a wheelchair user is impacted by an airline’s carelessness with personal mobility equipment. So while your life is put on hold as a wheelchair user, medical equipment providers and your insurance plan are financially hurt too.
If you want this kind of damage to stop happening as often as it does when wheelchair users travel, it’s time for you to sign the form supporting this pending legislation.
Your signature will help convince your Congressional representatives to pass this amendment for your support. Don’t wait, SIGN IT NOW at this link provided by United Spinal Association.
Understanding the Air Carrier Access Act Amendment
For 35 years, the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) has prohibited discrimination based on disability in air travel. Despite this effort, too many travelers with disabilities continue to encounter significant barriers like:
- damaged assistive devices and wheelchairs,
- delayed assistance,
- ineffective communications, and
- lack of seating accommodations.
In 2018, passengers filed 36,930 disability-related complaints with air carriers, representing an 8 percent increase over 2017. The majority of these complaints were related to failure to provide assistance and seating accommodation.
View some of the damage caused to wheelchairs by airlines in this helpful video below, as wheelchair users share their real-life examples of airline travel.
VIDEO: Preflight Announcement with Noah Seidel
The Air Carrier Access Amendments Act is cosponsored in the Senate by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Bob Casey (D-PA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH). The House companion legislation is cosponsored by Representatives Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Dina Titus (D-NV).
The 2021 Air Carrier Access Amendments Act will:
• Strengthen ACAA enforcement by requiring DOT to levy civil penalties for violations and refer complaints to the Department of Justice for possible further enforcement and establishing of a private right of action.
• Ensure new airplanes are designed to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities by requiring airlines to meet defined accessibility standards. These standards will address safe and effective boarding and deplaning, visually accessible announcements, seating accommodations, lavatories, and better stowage options for assistive devices.
• Require removal of access barriers on existing airplanes to the extent that it is readily achievable, easily accomplishable, and may be done without much difficulty or expense.
• Improve the overall safety of air travel for passengers with disabilities.
Senator Baldwin has long been an advocate for ensuring equal access to air travel for all individuals and she previously worked to include a number of key measures in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 to protect the rights of disabled airplane passengers and close service gaps.
“We need to break down the barriers that individuals with disabilities face when they travel,” states Senator Baldwin. “Equal access to air travel for individuals with disabilities is about fairness and freedom. This legislation will enhance the rights and safety of airline passengers with disabilities, including our veterans.”
“Although we have made progress in the last 35 years to address barriers in plane travel for people with disabilities, I know personally that challenges remain,” says Rep. Langevin, the first quadriplegic elected to Congress.
“It’s past time we update the standard of air travel and make services more inclusive and responsive to individual needs. This critical legislation presents an opportunity to build upon the Air Carrier Access Act by improving accessibility, enhancing assistance, and ensuring greater civil rights protections,” he continues.
“People with disabilities shouldn’t have to face extra obstacles when they travel,” says Rep. Titus. “This legislation will help make our airports and airplanes more accessible and accommodating for all.”
A Full Crew of Supporting Non-Profit Organizations
The Air Carrier Access Amendments Act is supported by Paralyzed Veterans of America, ALS Association, Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago, American Association of People with Disabilities, American Council of the Blind, The Arc of the United States, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, Cure SMA, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, Easterseals, Epilepsy Foundation, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National Association of the Deaf, National Council on Independent Living, National Disability Rights Network, National Federation of the Blind, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, United Spinal Association, AMVETS, Blinded Veterans Association, The American Legion, Vietnam Veterans of America, VetsFirst and Wounded Warrior Project.
How You Can Help Improve Air Travel for Wheelchair Users
If you would like to see Air Carrier Access Amendments Act of 2021 enacted as Federal law, the N-ABLE team strongly encourages you to add your name to the list of supporters for this legislation.
It takes less than 5 minutes to do so at https://bit.ly/3mqYtmq.
We hope this helps all of our followers and friends to more fully enjoy the friendly skies in the years ahead!
Thank you for sharing this story with your family and friends and asking for their support and involvement by signing the form too. Here’s what this simple form looks like, below: