WASHINGTON — The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) is making sure people with disabilities know their fundamental rights when heading to the airport.
On Friday, the USDOT published the first-ever Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights. This document summarises the fundamental rights of air travelers with disabilities under the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).
The ACAA was signed into law in 1986 and outlines the specific rights of airline passengers with disabilities. Since then, it has undergone changes, with the most recent guideline update in 2008.
“As so many here know from personal experience, prior to the ACAA, air travel for passengers with disabilities was not guaranteed,” said U.S. Secretary of Transporation Pete Buttigieg. “Many were denied access altogether.”
Secretary Buttigieg calls the act one of America’s greatest civil rights achievements for the Ronald Reagan administration. He says the department continues its efforts to make good on the promises of the legislation.
“Some of our most important moments in life depend on being able to get where you need to go. It is so central to our personal and professional lives. And if you’re not able to travel solely because somebody has decided it is too hard to accommodate you, then your world almost literally shrinks. It’s not fair, it’s not right, and it’s not smart for a country to constrict the lives of almost 70 million Americans,” said Secretary Buttigieg. “So we know that transportation can be a barrier to accessibility or it can be a way to break down barriers and allow everyone to reach their fullest potential.”
The department notes that the Bill of Rights does not expand or restrict the rights of air travelers with disabilities. Its goal is to provide a convenient summary of existing law. The department hopes the Bill of Rights will empower air travelers with disabilities to understand and assert their rights and help ensure that U.S. and foreign air carriers and their contractors uphold those rights.
The Bill of Rights was developed using feedback from the Air Carrier Access Act Advisory Committee. It consists of:
- The Right to Be Treated with Dignity and Respect.
- The Right to Receive Information About Services and Aircraft Capabilities and Limitations.
- The Right to Receive Information in an Accessible Format.
- The Right to Accessible Airport Facilities.
- The Right to Assistance at Airports.
- The Right to Assistance on the Aircraft.
- The Right to Travel with an Assistive Device or Service Animal.
- The Right to Receive Seating Accommodations.
- The Right to Accessible Aircraft Features.
- The Right to Resolution of a Disability-Related Issue.
You can read the full Bill of Rights below: