United Spinal Plans Webinar on Making Flying Better for Wheelchair Users

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by Patricia Silva, PhD |

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Webinar on wheelchair fliers

The United Spinal Association will hold a webinar this week to seek ideas for making air travel better for wheelchair users, including multiple sclerosis patients.

One focus of the event will be the problems wheelchair users have encountered at airports. Another will be bills in the U.S. House and Senate to amend the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA).

Titled “How to Improve Air Travel for Wheelchair Users,” the webinar will be between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Thursday, March 29.

The ACAA, which became law in 1986, prohibits airline companies from discriminating against disabled flyers. Not only can they not refuse to serve the disabled, but they also can not limit the number of disabled people on a flight.

Experts estimate that about half of all MS patients will need assistance walking or will have to use a wheelchair eventually.

Webinar presenters will give disabled viewers a rundown on their travel rights. They will also learn about advocacy opportunities during the year, including Roll on Capitol Hill 2018, which is designed to empower participants to become stronger self-advocates.

Even though the ACAA can help the disabled overcome barriers when flying, wheelchairs are often damaged or destroyed due to mishandling. In addition, disabled people are sometimes injured when getting on and off a plane.

United Spinal will also offer webinar participants ideas on flying-related wheelchair advocacy positions they might want to take. These ideas include increasing penalties for damaged or broken wheelchairs, allowing disabled passengers to sue airlines, and ensuring that airlines set higher standards for disabled people’s accessibility and safety, including specialized staff training.

The organization also wants to see bill of rights for passengers with disabilities and a federal advisory committee on their air travel needs, according to a press release.

Webinar presenters will include Alexandra Bennewith, vice president of government relations at United Spinal, and three legislative assistants to members of Congress. Meghan Ladwig is an assistant to Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin. Peter La Fountain and Elyssa Malin are assistants to Congressman Jim Langevin, a Democrat from Rhode Island.


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