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Paralyzed Veterans of America issues statement following the release of proposed changes, requested by PVA, that would improve air travel for wheelchair users

WASHINGTON, Feb. 29, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Paralyzed Veterans of America Chief Policy Officer Heather Ansley issues the following statement in response to the Department of Transportation’s newly released Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would change the Air Carrier Access Act regulations to improve the air travel experience for people who use wheelchairs and other assistive devices – based in large part on PVA’s February 2022 USDOT petition to initiate rulemaking authority, as well as follow up letters on the topic. 

“Despite continued setbacks and delays, improving access to air travel for passengers with disabilities remains one of PVA’s top priorities. Today’s proposed changes by the Department of Transportation include several vital steps that would dramatically improve the air travel experience for people with disabilities. They would clarify airlines’ obligations and responsibilities to individuals with disabilities; better enforce violations and administrative penalties onto airlines that mishandle assistive devices; and improve airline processes for returning, repairing, and replacing mishandled wheelchairs, to include informing wheelchair users about the location of their device during transit and allowing them to choose their own repair company, if their wheelchair or scooter is damaged. The changes would also mandate critical hands-on training on a regular basis to any airline staff or contractor who physically assist passengers with mobility disabilities or handle battery-powered assistive devices.”

Ansley continued, “We appreciate the Department of Transportation acting on PVA’s petition and prioritizing the safety, dignity, and disability civil rights of people who use assistive devices. We now urge wheelchair and scooter users to comment on this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to ensure their voices are heard. Too many veterans with spinal cord injuries or diseases, like MS and ALS, have had their wheelchairs or other assistive devices damaged, lost, or destroyed at the hands of airlines. While others, to include many of our members, have been seriously injured during the boarding and deplaning process. Enough is enough. Only by working together can we implement lasting change.” 

In addition to PVA’s petition, USDOT’s proposed rule also took into account the department’s March 2022, public-facing meeting with wheelchair users, which addressed the problems they encounter when they travel by air in the wake of the untimely passing of disability rights advocate Engracia Figueroa in 2021.

To review and comment on USDOT’s NPRM click here. To join PVAction Force and encourage Congress to pass the final version of the FAA Reauthorization Act, as well as learn about safe, accessible air travel visit PVA.org/AirTravel.

About Paralyzed Veterans of America
Paralyzed Veterans of America is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and the only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely for the benefit and representation of veterans with spinal cord injury or diseases. The organization ensures veterans receive the benefits earned through service to our nation; monitors their care in VA spinal cord injury units; and funds research and education in the search for a cure and improved care for individuals with paralysis.

As a life-long partner and advocate for veterans and all people with disabilities, PVA also develops training and career services, works to ensure accessibility in public buildings and spaces, and provides health and rehabilitation opportunities through sports and recreation. With more than 70 offices and 33 chapters, Paralyzed Veterans of America serves veterans, their families, and their caregivers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Learn more at PVA.org.

Contact: S. Oname Thompson
[email protected]
(703) 864-5980 cell

SOURCE Paralyzed Veterans of America

Originally published at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/paralyzed-veterans-of-america-issues-statement-following-the-release-of-proposed-changes-requested-by-pva-that-would-improve-air-travel-for-wheelchair-users-302075618.html
Images courtesy of https://pixabay.com

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