Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018, Designed to Protect Passengers with Disabilities

 Loading a planeU.S. Senate vote of 93 to 6 to passes the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 302). The legislation includes a ‘bill of rights’ and an advisory panel for passengers with disabilities, as well as revised training and procedures for TSA screenings of people with disabilities.

“Passengers with disabilities deserve equal access to the skies,” said Congressman Langevin, a quadriplegic who co-chairs the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus. “As I have seen in my own flying experience, however, our safety and security is often not prioritized. That’s why I’m proud of the work Senator Baldwin and I did to make meaningful changes in the FAA bill, including a bill of rights for people with disabilities, to reduce barriers to travel. While there is still considerable progress to be made before we can achieve full equality, I am pleased with our achievements in this legislation, and I am grateful for the work of PVA in advocating on behalf of the broader disability community.”

H.R. 302 includes several provisions similar to those found in the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act (ACAAA – H.R. 5004/S. 1318) introduced by Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I. earlier this year and by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis. in 2017. Some of the Paralyzed Veterans of America supported provisions include increased civil penalties for wheelchair damage or bodily harm, and a study on the feasibility of in-cabin wheelchair restraint systems. 

In addition to Langevin, Baldwin was also a sponsor of the bill. “In order to keep America’s promise of full equality for all, we must break down the barriers that individuals with disabilities and our veterans face when they travel,” said Baldwin. 

“Equal access to air travel ensures our veterans are able to participate in today’s economy and enjoy their travel opportunities. I’m so proud to partner with Paralyzed Veterans of America to protect the rights of our veterans when they travel and I’m looking forward to the president signing this important legislation,” added Baldwin.

“We applaud the bipartisan passage of this bill,” said David Zurfluh, national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America. “This is truly a move in the right direction and we will continue to support efforts to prohibit discrimination based on disability in air travel, whether that’s on Capitol Hill or in the courts.”

According to Paralyzed Veterans of America, the number one complaint that they receive from members is related to problems with air travel. Shaun Castle, who serves as the deputy executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America and is a service-disabled U.S. Army Veteran, has had his wheelchair bent, cracked and even lost in separate incidents. 

“These are more than minor inconveniences,” Castle said. “If my wheelchair is damaged, it may mean I am stranded until I can get it repaired.”

Paralyzed Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or disease. For more than 70 years, the organization has ensured that veterans receive the benefits earned through service to our nation; monitored their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funded research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis. 

Editor’s Note: Protection is available with the Haseltine system article in ABILITY Magazine
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