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Duckworth legislation would protect disability rights for airplane passengers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., has joined four other senators in introducing the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act to try to help improve protections for airplane passengers with disabilities.

duckworth tammy square“Far too many Americans living with a disability – many of whom are veterans like myself – face unnecessary challenges during air travel,” said Duckworth. “As someone who has experienced these challenges firsthand, I understand how damaged baggage or inaccessible seating accommodations can have a profound effect on disabled travelers. This legislation will go a long way to correct these issues and ensure disabled Americans receive the protections they deserve.”

The Air Carrier Access Act is designed to protect disabled air travelers from discrimination, but people with disabilities still encounter significant barriers such as damaged equipment, delayed assistance and lack of seating accommodations, she said. In 2015, airplane passengers filed more than 30,000 disability related complaints with airlines and nearly 1,000 disability-related complaints with the Department of Transportation.

Specifically, the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act will:

  • Strengthen ACAA enforcement to include specific protections of the rights of passengers with disabilities and a private right of action.
  • Ensure airplanes are designed to accommodate people with disabilities and airlines meet accessibility standards, including safe and effective boarding and deplaning, visually accessible announcements and better stowage options for assistive devices.
  • Improve access to seating accommodations.
  • Close service gaps in air travel for passengers with disabilities.

This legislation is supported by Paralyzed Veterans of America, American Association of People with Disabilities, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, National Association of the Deaf, American Council of the Blind, Easterseals, United Spinal Association, The Arc, The National Council on Independent Living, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, National Disability Rights Network and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

— From the Illinois Business Journal

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