During the early part of my career, I was very blessed and fortunate to travel across the country. Typically, I was on the road for over 250 days out of the year. It was very strenuous and taxing, especially with having a disability and everything involved with traveling. One of the things I was always mindful of was my flight schedule. I had to watch what I ate before going on a flight, from 12 to 24 hours beforehand. The reason for this is because airplanes do not have wheelchair-accessible bathrooms.
New Rule from the Department of Transportation
Recently, the Department of Transportation announced that a proposed rule that would improve the accessibility of laboratories for people with disabilities traveling on single aisle aircraft. The proposed rule states that airlines must make at least one lavatory on new, single-aisle aircraft accessible so that a passenger with a disability can approach, enter and maneuver inside the lavatory. It would be a huge game changer for the disability community and wheelchair users.
The Challenges of Flying with a Disability
When I fly, there are two things I worry about: damage to my power wheelchair and whether I will need to use the bathroom during the flight, especially when flying between New York and California. Five hours is a very long time to not eat, drink or go to the bathroom. This law would really put the disability community at ease when flying.
Positive Change on the Horizon
Although flying with a power wheelchair will never be fully risk free, this law is definitely a step in the right direction. Personally, I would resume going on flights if I knew I didn’t have to worry about using the bathroom on an aircraft. Not only does this law benefit individuals with disabilities, it benefits the airlines as well, as more people will travel.
About Josh McDermott: Josh is a brand ambassador for Quantum Rehab®. He is a public speaker and has served as a goodwill ambassador for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Josh lives in New York and loves to travel. Click here to learn more about Josh.
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