On Thursday, March 24, 2022, the U.S. Department of Transportation held an all-day virtual public meeting on the subject of air travel by persons who use wheelchairs. Over 600 people attended the meeting. At the meeting, we heard from representatives from the Department of Transportation, including the Secretary himself. We also heard from airline industry representatives and members of the public. Many wheelchair users provided comments and testimony about the barriers and frustrations they have experienced in air travel, and they also provided suggestions for solutions moving forward.
The Public Offers Their Input
After the virtual meeting, the Department of Transportation invited the public to provide comments until April 25th on the topic of air travel by persons who use wheelchairs. Over 178 people submitted comments, many of whom were people with disabilities urging the Department of Transportation to take more action on ensuring that people with disabilities are treated equitably by airlines.
Submitting Feedback and Comments
I submitted comments and found it difficult to summarize my thoughts on this subject because air travel for wheelchair users is such a broad topic that causes so much frustration. Every time I travel by air, I experience anxiety because I never know how the airlines will break my wheelchair. It’s never a question of if they break my chair, but how. Even though I take many precautions, including putting signs on my chair with precise instructions on how to handle my wheelchair, nothing seems to ensure that my chair is returned to me in the same manner that I left it at the gate.
I know that my experiences are not unique. Many wheelchair users have gone through the same nightmares as I have. They’ve had their wheelchairs broken or even lost by the airlines. I am so glad that the U.S. Department of Transportation is finally taking the time to discuss this issue and I hope that real change comes as a result.
About Stephanie Woodward: Stephanie is a brand ambassador advisor for Quantum Rehab® and works as a disability rights activist. She has received many awards for helping communities become more accessible, as well as for her actions in fighting for the rights of disabled individuals as it relates to Medicaid and other support services. Click here to learn more about Stephanie.
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