With so many regulations popping up across the country limiting or outright banning the use of plastic straws, I’m getting a lot of questions from folks about why this is even an issue to some disabled people. And to be honest, some of the questions are well meaning, but many folks just don’t get the point – or points – that banning the use of plastic straws in restaurants puts yet another undue burden on our disabled citizens. Maybe some people just never thought about it before, or maybe they don’t understand the technicalities behind it all. Whatever the reason, here are some of the questions I’ve fielded in the past month, along with the answers I’ve given. Feel free to pass them along. Continue reading
In this day and age of improved airline access regulations, flying has become rather commonplace for many wheelchair-users. And that’s a very good thing. Sure there are still hiccups, but flying is a far cry from what it was in the pre-ACAA days — when airlines could refuse wheelchair-users passage for any capricious reason, and those lucky souls that were permitted to board were required to sit on blankets for fear they would soil the seats. Continue reading
On the heels of Frank Gardner’s nearly two-hour wait to be reunited with his wheelchair at Heathrow International Airport, the British government is considering strengthening their almost non-existent accessible air travel regulations. In the US, disabled passengers are entitled to “prompt” deplaning, which according to the Department of Transportation means “as soon as the rest of the passenger are deplaned”. Unfortunately that’s not the way things work in the UK. Continue reading
Have you ever checked into a hotel only to find that the bed in the accessible room was too high or too low for you? Well you’re not alone. Trust me, I get a lot of mail about this issue. It’s a real problem for managers and guests alike, as there are no regulations regarding bed height. Continue reading
Canada’s national rail provider – VIA Rail recently announced that it plans to add more wheelchair tie-downs to their rail cars in 2018. And although this is great news to disability advocates, this access upgrade didn’t come without a battle. A battle that began back in 2016, when Marie Murphy and Martin Anderson traveled from Windsor to Toronto on VIA Rail. Continue reading
Although travelers in the US are used to the protections that the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) affords them in this country (and on flights to and from the US), that’s not how it works on foreign soil. In fact, I routinely get reports of wheelchair-users who were unceremoniously denied boarding at airports throughout Asia. Such is the case of Kaushik Majumdar, who recently tried to board an Air India flight from Bengaluru to Kolkata.
Notice, I said “tried”.
According to reports of the incident Majumdar was told at check-in that he would have to remove the dry-cell battery from his power wheelchair and transfer to a manual wheelchair at the gate. After he did this, he was also informed that he would have to disconnect all of the wires that ran to the battery case. Being leery about his ability to properly reconnect the wires, and concerned about possible damage to his wheelchair, he refused. And then Air India refused to accept him as a passenger.
Should this have happened? Well no it shouldn’t have, but it did. And although in the US, the ACAA prohibits the removal of non-spillable batteries that are appropriately marked and installed, that’s not the way it works with Air India.
So this is just a little heads up if you happen to have India on your bucket list. Tread lightly with Air India, as they don’t appear to be “power-wheelchair friendly”. And no matter where you travel, check with the airline to see what their policies are regarding the stowage of assistive devices before you buy your ticket. A little advance research could possible save you a whole lot of heartache – not to mention a ruined trip. In this case, forewarned is definitely forearmed!
I get a lot of feedback on airlines – some of it good, and some of it not so good. For the most part my advice to folks is to learn the law – in this case the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) – and then complain to the Complaints Resolution Official (CRO) if things don’t go according to the regs. And that works fine if you are flying on a US carrier, or to or from the US on a foreign carrier. That’s as far as the jurisdiction of the ACAA extends. Period. Continue reading
Recently I’ve seen a lot of posts and comments from younger people who think we shouldn’t celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), quite simply because it does not go far enough. They claim that without any real enforcement, public entities are not held to the standards laid out by the US Access Board. Continue reading