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Biden administration proposing regulations making air travel easier for people using wheelchairs

The Biden administration is proposing regulations to make air travel easier for people who use wheelchairs.

The proposed rule from the Department of Transportation (DOT) would make the “mishandling” of assistive devices including wheelchairs “an automatic violation of the Air Carrier Access Act,” which would allow the department to “to more easily penalize airlines and hold them accountable when a passenger’s mobility device is damaged,” according to a Thursday press release.

“There are millions of Americans with disabilities who do not travel by plane because of inadequate airline practices and inadequate government regulation, but now we are setting out to change that,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement in the release. “This new rule would change the way airlines operate to ensure that travelers using wheelchairs can travel safely and with dignity.” 

The rule would also take actions including annual training for airline employees “who physically assist passengers with mobility disabilities or handle passengers’ wheelchairs” and would require airlines to “provide loaner wheelchairs while individuals with disabilities are waiting on repairs or replacement of a mishandled wheelchair.”

Back in July of last year, the DOT announced a rule requiring new single-aisle aircraft to have fully accessible lavatories. The department said while accessible lavatories have been “required on twin-aisle aircraft” for decades, the change “is necessary because the private marketplace has not met this basic need for accessible lavatories.”

It cited statistics showing inaccessible lavatories are a reason why many disabled passengers don’t fly “unless absolutely necessary.”

“This final rule addresses a human rights issue and promotes freedom to travel for people with disabilities,” it added.

Source: The Hill

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