The House of Representatives of the United States Congress passed a bill that renews authorization and funding to the Federal Aviation Administration (FFA) for five years and proposes updates to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). The ACAA was originally enacted in 1986 to protect individuals with disabilities from discrimination in air travel. Although the ACAA has led to progress in this endeavor, individuals with disabilities still experience issues such as damage to their assistive devices, a lack of seating accommodations, inaccessible bathrooms, mishandling of service animals, and lack of training by the airline staff to provide adequate assistance. The proposed amendments to the ACAA aim to rectify some of these issues by ensuring streamlined boarding, deplaning, and connections between flights, accessible accommodations, and accessible communication, including both visual and audible announcements.
The bill also creates a Select Subcommittee for Aviation Consumers with Disabilities, which will advise the Secretary of Transportation on the air travel needs of individuals with disabilities. The bill also orders the U.S. Department of Transportation to conduct a study on the use of in-cabin wheelchair restraint systems and issue a report to Congress within 180 days of completing the study. Finally, the bill requires that the training provided to airport and airline staff be reviewed and updated.
Now that the bill has been passed by the House of Representatives, it has moved to the Senate. To contact your Senators to voice your support of the Bill, please visit this site: https://tma.ong/2PUs2ve. To view the proposed bill in its entirety, please visit https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/1318/text.
If you would like to learn more about using air travel as a person with a disability, the TMA recently hosted a podcast on this subject. You can listen to the podcast here: https://myelitis.org/resources/air-travel-with-a-disability-your-rights-best-practices-and-suggestions/.