Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) is recognizing the 30th Anniversary of the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). The law signed by President Ronald Reagan to prohibit discrimination for individuals with disabilities while traveling by air marks its 30th anniversary on October 2. Paralyzed Veterans was instrumental in lobbying for and helping craft the law to help people with disabilities have equal access to fly on airplanes.
“We are proud to have played an integral part in the passage of this important law 30 years ago, but there is still work to be done,” said Sherman Gillums, Jr., executive director of Paralyzed Veterans. “Despite the progress that’s been made over the years, airline passengers with disabilities continue to encounter significant difficulties in air travel. Paralyzed Veterans will continue to advocate for these individuals until full, equal access during air travel is the norm.”
Recent victories championed by Paralyzed Veterans of America include the inclusion of two provisions that address a narrow scope of challenges faced by persons with disabilities in air travel. The Federal Aviation Administration Extension, Safety and Security Act of 2016 (Public Law 114-190) requires the Government Accountability Office to submit a report to Congress outlining each air carrier’s training policy for personnel and contractors regarding assistance for passengers with disabilities. The FAA extension also requires the Department of Transportation (DOT) to develop and disseminate best practices for air carriers to improve disability assistance training programs, and issue proposed regulations on including accessible lavatories on single-aisle aircraft, seating accommodations for persons with disabilities and definitions of the types of service animals that may accompany passengers with disabilities on board a flight.
In Spring 2017, the Department of Transportation also outlined plans to create a negotiated rulemaking committee consisting of disability advocacy organizations like Paralyzed Veterans, as well as airlines and aircraft manufacturers. The Accessible Air Transportation Advisory Committee, or ACCESS, is currently working to develop proposed amendments to DOT’s disability regulations on accessible in-flight entertainment and communications, accessible lavatories on single-aisle aircraft, and amending the definition of service animals.
“Moving forward, education is also a key component to fully recognizing and promoting protections for air travelers with disabilities,” said Heather Ansley, associate general counsel for corporate and government relations for Paralyzed Veterans of America. “Many passengers with disabilities, for example, are not aware that the ACAA is separate from the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and therefore may be less effective in advocating for needed changes in air travel access. We’re are working to educate people with disabilities so they can be their own best advocates.”
Paralyzed Veterans continues to collect stories of travel experiences from individuals with disabilities, both positive and negative, through a website the organization launched at airaccess30.org. These stories will help Paralyzed Veterans continue to advocate for improved access in air travel.
About Paralyzed Veterans of America
Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For 70 years, we have ensured that veterans have received the benefits earned through their service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.
As a partner for life, Paralyzed Veterans also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation and advocates for veterans and all people with disabilities. With more than 70 offices and 34 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans serves veterans, their families and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. For more information, visit pva.org.
SOURCE Paralyzed Veterans of America