United Spinal Plans Webinar on Making Flying Better for Wheelchair Users

United Spinal Plans Webinar on Making Flying Better for Wheelchair Users

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.



  1. Judy Sumlin says:

    My biggest problems have been airport security and getting back and forth to bathrooms inflight. Security seems to target me and the personal pat downs have been humiliating. Getting up and going to the bathrooms in flight are difficult and daunting!
    There has to be better accommodations for us.

  2. Rhonda Danielson says:

    While I have not flown since becoming stuck in a wheelchair, what I have heard from my DME provider and former flight attendants GUARANTEES I will not fly anywhere under current law for any reason.

    I SHOULD NOT be manhandled out of my wheelchair, manhandled into a seat on the airplane, have my legs (customized power chair) shoved into a baggage compartment that may or may not be part of the airplane that I am on, hope that my legs are not damaged, destroyed or lost and then repeat the manhandling back into my chair (hopefully!) once I reach my destination.

    Like all other common carriers (buses, trains and specialized cabs) I should be able to drive my chair onto the plane, park in a designated spot, get the chair tied down and make the flight in MY chair, which is designed by licensed medical professionals to accommodate my unique seating and positioning needs.

    Anything else is physically dangerous for me, airline staff and other passengers.

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