Friday, November 16, 2012

Now the disabled veterans could buy adapted cars through CSD

Ministry of Defence, government of India decides to provide adapted / modified cars through CSD (Canteen Stores Department) to disabled defence personnel.

Giving big relief to a large number of disabled defence personnel, the Ministry of Defence has decided to provide the automatic driven cars or cars which are suitably modified to meet their requirements through the CSD canteen stores. 

The move will enable them to procure the cars at subsidized rate which is much below the market price. 

Sources said that after the direction of the Ministry of Defence, the canteen stores department has written to all the major car manufacturing companies to send their proposals to the department for the enlistment.

The General Manager of the CSD stores has written to the Hyundai, Maruti, Ford , Toyata, Nisssan, General Motors etc for providing the detail of the cars useful for the disabled personnel. 

The letter has said, “Representation has been received from Disabled War Veterans for introduction of automatic driven cars. In order to meet social obligation stipulated under Disability Act all companies are requested to send their proposal.” The copy has also been sent to Col HN Honda president of the Association. 

Colonel ( Retired ) SK Agrawal disabled army officers has said that many cars are available in the market which are specially designed for the disabled personnel but the disabled persons cannot buy them due to their high prices. 

He said that if these cars are made available in the CSD stores then large number of the disable personnel can be benefited by the decision

There are large numbers of the disabled ex-servicemen residing in different parts of the county. 

Lt Colonel (Retd) SS Sohi, President Ex-Servicemen Grievance Cell said that the time has come to give their due to the war disabled. The move to provide the cars from the CSD will help them to live with dignity and pride. 

Companies are manufacturing cars for keeping in mind with different disabilities. Hand controlled cars are suitable for physically challenged people. Hand controls can make driving much easier with more control and faster response times. These cars have hand operated brake and accelerator and hand operated clutch.

Source: Daily Post India 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Ahmedabad BRT - a "Light House Project" - United Nation


NEW DELHI: The United Nations has chosen Ahmedabad's Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) as a showcase project to highlight that addressing climate change is not a burden, but an opportunity to improve the lives of people.

The 51-km BRTS will be highlighted as a 'lighthouse project' as part of the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's Momentum for Change Initiative at the Doha round of negotiations to be held later this month. The initiative was launched by the UN Secretary General at the 2011 Durban round of the UN-sponsored climate change negotiations. The "lighthouse projects" are an attempt to "transform the impression of slow progress in negotiations, into a positive can do environment that recognizes action and progress".

As people need to travel longer distances to work or for leisure, there has been a rapid rise in the vehicular traffic, especially as public transport systems in India's cities have been unable to cater to the rising demand. There is an annual 15% rise in the passenger-km that Indians travel, and a 10% increase in the sale of vehicles particularly cars to meet the requirement, according to official data. Transport has become one of the chief sources of rising emission.

Rising pollution, congested cities, larger imports of petroleum resulting in rising prices of petrol and diesel has prompted cities such as Ahmedabad to look for ways to address the crisis on the roads. The Ahmedabad BRTS, which began as pilot project on a 12.5 kilometre stretch in July 2009, has emerged as an example of how a planned commuting system can help reduce emissions and improve air quality as well as have a positive impact on urban development.

"The city of Ahmedabad, which flanks both banks of the Sabarmati river, has many bridges. About ten years ago, we had a pollution situation that made visibility poor. You just couldn't see the bridges. The pollution was so bad that if you were driving on the bridge or waiting at a red light your eyes would water. So around 2002-03, the city moved to CNG, which improved matters. The next step was to improve public transport," said Akhil Brambhatt, deputy general manager, Ahmedabad Janmarg Ltd.

The Ahmedabad BRTS or Janmarg is part of this effort. In the three years of its existence it has expanded to 51 km. Some 20% to 22% of commuters, who were using two-wheelers to commute, have moved to the bus system. The Janmarg's success comes even as Delhi's attempt at introducing a BRTS failed. Ahmedabad learnt its lesson from the nation's capital's mistake. "We took a lot of care in the route selection. Our slogan was simple-avoid busy roads but connect busy places," Brambhatt explained.

For the first three months, the Ahmedabad BRTS was run as a free service. People used the service out of curiosity and well because it was free. The doors were opened to suggestions, and many of these were incorporated into the working of the system. Even when it became a paid service, the charges were low. Brambhatt points out that the minimum fare of 3 for a 2-km trip is among the lowest in the country. The minimum fare in Delhi is 5.

Source: Times of India

Monday, October 29, 2012

UK's Civil Aviation Authority to handle air travel complaints of disabled passengers now

Dear Friends,

We find the world is gradually becoming inclusive for people with disabilities where the affairs of the disabled are not segregated to be dealt by exclusive commissions / ministries but integrated in to the mainstream network of handling consumer affairs. Transfer of handling air travel complaints from disabled persons from Equality and Human Rights Commission UK to their Civil Aviation Authority is one such good example which should be followed world over  not only to mainstream the disability issues but also to spread the sensitization about the disability in the larger community.

Here is an advice released by the UK's Civil Aviation Authority for the benefit of persons with disabilities and those with reduced mobility after the authority took over responsibility for handling air travel complaints from disabled people and those with reduced mobility from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Any passenger in the UK that faces difficulty travelling within an airport or on board an aircraft – through disability, injury, age or any other reason - is entitled to help from the airport or airline. The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is today reminding travellers of their rights and offering advice on what to do to improve their air travel experience.

Anyone who is unhappy with the service they receive when travelling should first contact the airport or airline they used, but if they don’t receive a satisfactory response the CAA can then take up the case on their behalf.

And to ensure the CAA delivers the best possible results for those that aren’t happy with the service they get from an airport or airline, it has set up the “Disability advisory group” - a forum where disability groups, consumer groups, the Department for Transport and the CAA can share data on the issues of most concern.

The rights of people with reduced mobility travelling by air apply across the EU and the CAA is responsible for enforcing them here in the UK. Its efforts focus on making sure airports and airlines meet their passengers’ needs and as part of this, the regulator is stressing to passengers the importance of informing their airport and airline of their needs at least 48 hours before they are due to travel. This can help improve the level of support passengers receive by allowing enough time for suitable preparations and additional facilities to be made available.

The rights for disabled passengers and persons with reduced mobility travelling by air are set out in EU regulation under 1107/2006 which is available at link: Rights of Disabled Passengers.  (9 page PDF document, link opens in a new window)

Iain Osborne, Group Director for Regulatory Policy at the CAA said: “Anyone who is able to fly safely should have fair access to air travel, and the right to any support they need to travel within the airport and board the aircraft. The obligations on airports and airlines to provide this support are very clear, and as we saw during the Paralympics, having everyone work together is the best way to ensure passengers get the service they deserve.

“However, there are still occasions where people do not receive the support they need and this can be very distressing for those passengers. By notifying their airport and airline of their needs in advance of their flight, passengers can help prevent this. And if they still don’t receive a good quality service, we want to hear from them so we can work with the airports and airlines to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Information and advice for passengers with reduced mobility is available from the CAA’s online passenger portal at www.caa.co.uk/passengers. The portal also includes other useful advice for passengers before they fly, whilst on board their flight and how to complain if something goes wrong.

Passengers who are not satisfied with the response from a complaint to an airport or airline can refer their complaint to passengercomplaints@caa.co.uk

regards

Subhash C Vashishth

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Disabled Pass Holder offloaded by Driver of Public Transport in UK


Dear Colleagues,

Persons with disabilities are often poked fun at for their disability and misbehaved with while using public transport in India and routinely in rural belt where transports systems are not well developed still. Many of such travelers hold their free or highly concessional travel passes from the State Transport Departments or Social Justice Departments which means they are often looked at as a customer who will not pay up for the travel and thus ridiculed and commented upon. This has been observed that the drivers of public transport do not stop when they see a disabled traveler waiting at the bus stop or do not align the bus with the bus bay or stop the bus much ahead of the bus bay to discourage use of public transport by the passengers with disabilities.

What has happened in UK with Ms. Jess McGee is horrifying and it is difficult to compensate for the loss of dignity and shock that she suffered during the travel. If the law, in public interest and for public safety, disallows her to drive, she has all the rights to be compensated for her loss of opportunities in her independent mobility and this is highly discouraging for persons with disabilities to use public transport if such incidences occur when they step out to work, education or for any other chore.

Such incidences generally go unreported in India, especially when it comes to road transport such as State Transport Buses, Metro Rail and Indian Railways. Though several disabled flyers have taken up issues of maltreatment and discrimination in the past (perhaps they had access to media and were from sound economic backgrounds!) when they were asked to sign a bond or not given facilities for safe and comfortable transfer despite paying a full fare.  However, not all persons living with disabilities have those means and access to media and thus things go unreported. We need a campaign across India to ensure dignity during travel for persons with disabilities.

Here is the coverage from Daily Mail, UK


  • Jess McGee, 19, left 'shocked and embarrassed' after the incident on her way to work in Bath, Somerset
  • She had no money but was saved by a kindly passenger who stepped in and paid her fare
  • Travel bosses say they are investigating

Jess McGee,19, from Bath, Somerset, was on her usual route to her job at a supermarket when she showed the driver her legal bus pass.

As an epilepsy sufferer she is registered disabled and is entitled to free travel on public transport because she cannot drive safely. The driver on board the number 13 service asked to take a closer look and then demanded to know her disability.

When she explained her condition he told her it was a 'p*** take' and ordered her to pay or get off the bus.
Jess wasn't carrying any money but was saved by a kindly passenger who stepped in and paid her fare.
She said: 'I felt very shocked and embarrassed.  'I was so shocked at the time that I didn’t feel I could put up an argument. 'People I have spoken to since have said all the things I should have said to him but at the time I just couldn’t.'

The incident happened when she tried to use her Diamond travel card from Bath and North East Somerset Council. Mum Penny fumed: 'I was just really outraged. 'She is totally reliant on public transport because she hasn’t got the option to drive. 'She has got a lot of barriers that have stopped her from doing things, but she is trying to live life to the full.

'It just made me angry that anybody could treat anybody like that.  'It was just absolutely none of his business what her disability was.'

A spokesman for operator First said: 'We will be getting in touch with Ms McGee as soon as possible to apologise for any distress she may have suffered.

'As part of our training programme we train all of our drivers in disability awareness and expect all our staff to recognise and respond to the range of different needs that our customers may have, this includes hidden disabilities such as epilepsy.

'However, we will be taking further steps to ensure that such an incident does not happen again.'

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2209442/Teenage-epilepsy-sufferer-disability-travel-card-ordered-bus-driver-said-pass-p--take.html#ixzz28Oqyg5w8

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Disabled Rights Group quits civil aviation panel


NEW DELHI, June 1, 2012
Special Correspondent

The Disabled Rights Group on Thursday disassociated itself from the Civil Aviation Ministry's committee that is looking into the problems faced by the differently-abled or persons with reduced mobility, saying it did not agree with the process the panel was following.

The committee was set up two months ago to review guidelines for differently-abled flyers and offer suggestions for improving facilities to make their travel convenient.

The DRG said the Ministry failed to take action against the erring airline operators — which are also part of the panel — that had violated guidelines repeatedly.

While it was important to review the guidelines, the Ministry not taking some immediate steps, even if small, to implement the existing rules to stop ground-level harassment “seems like buying time and pacifying the sector's anger. If we are to wait till the regulation is revised by the committee and then accepted by the Ministry to get any ground level justice, then it may take a lifetime,” DRG member Shivani Gupta wrote to the panel.

Since the constitution of the committee, two instances have been reported of harrowing experience suffered by Javed Abidi, DRG Convener, and Shuaib Chalklen, Special Rapporteur on Disability with the U.N. “Both these cases happened with IndioGo, one of our committee members. If being part of this committee is so meaningless, then why have the committee?”

The DRG said the committee had listed issues that encountered non-compliance such as who was responsible for assisting disabled passengers, and lack of an adequate complaining mechanism. “But these are issues already known to the Ministry that you need to tackle in collaboration with the airlines internally, then why is time being wasted to get a report out of the committee when these matters can and will finally be resolved through internal discussions...?”

Thursday, May 31, 2012

New 787 Dreamliner from Boeing becomes the first accessible aircraft

Dear Colleagues,

Something good to share! Boeing has re-designed its lavatory to make it more accessible to persons with disabilities. Its slightly old news but its important since we haven't in India yet woken up to demand that all furture aircrafts bought by the airlines- private or government, must adhere to accesibility requireements. Therefore, it is important that the Governemnt of India and the airliners while procuring new aircraft for their fleets, specify the mandatory accessibility requirements  to the supplying companies. Best would be to include this requirement in the Tender document itself!

Here are the media release from Boeing:

Boeing Unveils Improved Access Features on the 787
EVERETT, Wash., March 26, 2007 -- When Boeing's [NYSE:BA] newest airplane, the all-new 787 Dreamliner, enters service in 2008, passengers will experience a more comfortable flight because of enhanced accessibility features.
"We analyzed accessibility issues passengers face on today's airplanes and incorporated advancements to better accommodate passengers of all ages and capabilities," said Mike Bair, vice president and general manager of the 787 program. "These advancements, coupled with the Dreamliner's larger windows, bigger carry-on bins, lower cabin altitude and cleaner air, will ensure that everyone enjoys a better flying experience on the 787."
Boeing partnered with the National Center for Accessible Transportation at Oregon State University to research accessibility improvements. As part of the research, Boeing engineers who design interiors were placed in simulated environments to better understand accessibility issues faced by persons with mobility, sensory and cognitive disabilities. In addition, the team worked with individuals with these disabilities to verify improvements.

Virtually all aspects of the Dreamliner's interior enhance passenger comfort. For example, all lavatories aboard the 787 Dreamliner feature universally designed interior and exterior door handles that are more intuitive and enable easier access by passengers with limited hand agility. Assist-handles installed in all lavatories are easier to grip and offer passengers better stability through improved design and location. "Touchless" features including faucets, toilet flushing and waste flaps can be activated by infrared sensors in addition to their traditional mechanical operation, making them easier to use.

Boeing is offering two wheelchair-accessible lavatories on the Dreamliner, each with significant advancements. The 56-inch longitudinal lavatory repositions the entryway door and toilet to provide extra usable space and makes it easier for passengers to reach and use the facilities.

A 56-inch by 57-inch convertible lavatory includes a movable center wall that allows two separate lavatories to become one large, wheelchair-accessible facility.
787 Wheelchair-accessible lavatory (Neg#: K63989)
Photo Credit: Boeing Media Release 

Other wheelchair-accessible lavatory improvements include an additional toilet flush button on the sink cabinet and a fold-down assist bar to aid independent transfers.

Additional enhancements are sprinkled throughout the airplane. Exterior assist handles are better positioned to accommodate passengers of all heights and levels of mobility. Overhead stowage bins are easier to reach, and latches work whether they are pushed or pulled, eliminating uncertainty. Bigger closets are offered that enable personal wheelchair stowage in the passenger cabin, while special closet features will better secure the wheelchair. As on current airplanes, aisle seats will have movable arm rests that offer passengers with disabilities easier access to their seats.

"Boeing is making an ongoing effort to identify opportunities to improve the flying experience," said Bair. "The 787 Dreamliner will set a new industry standard for accessibility on airplanes." 


Kate Hunter-Zaworski, Professor of civil engineering and director of OSU’s National Center for Accessible Transportation worked hard with the  engineers of Boeing on improving the accessible lavatory.

For your information, at Oregon State University, the National Center for Accessible Transportation (NCAT) is conducting basic research on accessibility issues and developing practical, cost-effective improvements in transportation technologies, with the goal of making transportation more accessible for everyone...

To watch the full news on a video visit http://engineering.oregonstate.edu/momentum/ncatVid.html




 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Indigo also sings the same song after harassing a passenger with disability

Dear Colleagues,

Another tale, however it is surprising to see that it is coming from Indigo this time which is considered by the disability sector to be a sensitized air carrier! It is disappointing and calls for urgent action on the part of the senior management team. And training not only for the Indigo staff but also for the security officials posted at the Airports. Here is the news from the Times of India.


Prerna Sodhi, TNN May 19, 2012, 01.41AM IST

NEW DELHI: A day after wheelchair-bound Shuaib Chalklen alleged harassment by IndiGo staff, the airline responded to TOI's queries on Friday afternoon, saying the personnel checking in the passengers inadvertently wrote paralysed on the boarding card of the special rapporteur on disability with the UN Commission for Social Development.

The email received from the airline says, "The IndiGo staff checking in the passengers inadvertently wrote paralysed on Mr Chalklen's boarding card which is NOT the usual process that IndiGo follows. We are taking serious action against the IndiGo staff. We regret the inconvenience caused to Mr. Shuaib Chalklen and hope he will see this experience as an aberration and not the rule at IndiGo."

Chalklen, who has been wheelchair-bound for 35 years, said he had received no word from the airline. He said the airline was avoiding the basic issue. "The basic issue is that they do not have a trained staff or the necessary equipment. How do they plan to take care of passengers with disability in future?" he said.

The email claimed Chalklen was offered the airline wheelchair at the check-in counter on Thursday afternoon as his wheelchair was slightly larger and could not pass through airport security. "Mr. Chalklen was requested to move to the 'IndiGo wheelchair', however, Mr. Chalklen chose to use his own wheelchair and this was refused by CISF at security area."

It added: "IndiGo wheelchair was shadowing the passenger. The staff at once provided the wheelchair (not an aisle wheelchair) and the passenger's wheelchair was sent back to the check-in counter to be tagged and sent through the in-line screening."

On Chalklen's allegation about the confusion over seat on the Mumbai-Delhi flight - he had said that after a passenger refused to swap seats, he was asked thrice if he could move slightly, stand or walk to another seat - the airline said, "Mr. Chalklen was originally assigned seat 3C, however, the assistant manager requested passenger seated on seat 1D to move to 3C. This took few minutes."

Echoing Chalklen, activist Javed Abidi of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People said such an incident was not new and the airlines were avoiding the basic issue. "The airlines have to answer where are the aisle wheelchairs, the wheelchairs. We are going to follow it up with the authorities concerned as these incidents are happening repeatedly," he said.

The chairperson of Svayam, Sminu Jindal, said that taking action against or dismissing the employees at the lower strata was not the solution. "The top notches have to understand that the policies have to percolate down to the lowest level," she said.

She added, "Apologizing and issuing public statements is not enough. The need of the hour is clear-cut instructions on things that are non-negotiable and this has to go down to the bottom-most level."


Source: http://epaper.timesofindia.com/Default/Scripting/ArticleWin.asp?From=Archive&Source=Page&Skin=TOINEW&BaseHref=CAP/2012/05/19&PageLabel=6&EntityId=Ar00600&ViewMode=HTML

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Jet Airways get its staff sensitized in disability equity

Dear Colleagues,

This is subsequent to my earlier post on the meeting at the DGCA's office with the senior representatives of the airlines operating in the country. Here is a message from our colleague Md. Asif Iqbal about the Sensitization Training that he and Ms. Jeeja Ghosh conducted for the Jet Airways on 10th May 2012 wherein some 103 employees of Jet Airways participated.  While this is a good news that such initiatives have started, there is a need to standardize the course content and have these trainings across all airlines under the supervision of the DGCA.

Message from Md. Asif Iqbal

Dear all,

I am pleased to inform you that Jet airways have taken an initiative to sensitize their ground staff through road shows at all Metros.  As you are aware; I and Jeeja Ghosh who was victim of discrimination by airline officials were invited to conduct training sensitization program for ground staff of Jet airways in New Delhi.  I and Jeeja both shared our story of discriminations, challenges in life along with miths of disability.  We both conducted two sessions and 103 employees of Jet airways attended our session on may 10, 2012.  General manager customer Service for Jet airways, Mr.Tejinder Singh who is leading this initiative is confident that we would be able to make a impact on changing attitude and perceptions of ground staff while they handle guest with special needs.

Jet airways is going to role out this initiative to Mumbai and other metro. While I welcome the initiative of policy reform which will take while before it is implemented. I thought offering our assistance with regard to
conducting training and sensitization to ground staff of airlines might be most practical and quickest solution in illuminating discrimination.

I also had a meeting with deputy director General civil Aviation, Mr. Lalit Gupta, requesting him to replicate Jet airways initiative to all other domestic airlines in India.  I and Jeeja were pretty satisfied with yesterday's training and look forward to support such initiative in the future.

Thanks and regards

Asif

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Jetstar out of pocket even if it wins wheelchair appeal

Jetstar out of pocket even if it wins wheelchair appeal

JETSTAR may well be pondering how many extra wheelchairs it could have provided for disabled passengers, as it weighs the dollar cost of what constitutes ''public interest'' in a disability discrimination stoush in the Federal Court.
Jetstar and Virgin Australia have been accused of discrimination by Sheila King, 78, who is reliant on a wheelchair as a result of post-polio syndrome, and a car crash in 2008. At stake is the business model of the low-cost airlines, which restrict wheelchair-assisted passengers to two per flight.
It was Jetstar's tight margins as a low-cost operator that convinced Federal Court judge Justice Alan Robertson that although Mrs King had been discriminated against, Jetstar was allowed to do so because of ''unjustifiable hardship'' provisions. Mrs King has appealed.

It was the question of litigating in the ''public interest'' that swayed the court this week to agree to a protective costs order that will see Jetstar out of pocket, even if Mrs King loses.
Justice Nye Perram agreed to Mrs King's request to cap costs at $10,000, saying the public interest proposition being put was that ''low-cost operators ought not be achieving their margins at the expense of disabled persons''. Mrs King is being represented pro bono and with some legal aid funding.
The judge was sympathetic to Jetstar's position - and that at the initial trial costs were capped at $20,000. Jetstar has estimated its appeal costs lie between $100,000-$180,000. No date has been set for the appeal or the Virgin Australia trial.


Read more: http://www.watoday.com.au/business/jetstar-out-of-pocket-even-if-it-wins-wheelchair-appeal-20120425-1xlio.html#ixzz1t86exjIE

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Frontier Airlines Fined For Violating Rules Protecting Air Travelers With Disabilities


Washington, DC--(ENEWSPF)--April 13, 2012.  The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today assessed a civil penalty of $50,000 against Frontier Airlines for violating rules protecting air travelers with disabilities.

“The Department of Transportation is committed to ensuring that airline passengers are treated fairly, and passengers with disabilities are no exception,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.  “At DOT, we take our aviation disability rules seriously and will continue to take enforcement action when airlines violate these rules.”

An investigation by DOT’s Aviation Enforcement Office into complaints filed against Frontier found that the carrier violated the DOT regulation implementing the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) with respect to its transportation of an individual with a disability.

The individual filing the complaint, a quadriplegic who has no use of his arms, legs, or torso, is unable to sit upright in an aircraft seat without support and restraint.  Frontier failed to provide him appropriate notice, in advance of the return portion of his round-trip transportation, that Federal Aviation Administration requirements prohibit seatbelt extenders as restraint devices for his upper body, even though the carrier had permitted him to use the devices in three prior flights, including the outbound flight of the trip in question.  On the return flight, the individual did not have an alternative restraint method and was removed from the flight.  The Department’s disability regulation requires airlines to provide passengers who notify them that they use a wheelchair for boarding, as this individual did, of any limit on the carriers’ ability to accommodate passengers with a disability, even if the passengers do not request the information.

Frontier also violated the Department’s disability regulation by failing to provide the passenger with adequate assistance in pre-boarding and getting on and off the plane, despite receiving multiple advance notices that the individual had a disability and needed assistance prior to his flight.  DOT requires airlines to provide assistance to passengers with disabilities while boarding and deplaning aircraft, including the use of wheelchairs, ramps, mechanical lifts and service personnel where needed.

The consent order is available on the Internet at www.regulations.gov, docket DOT-OST-2012-0002.

http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/latest-national/32619-frontier-airlines-fined-for-violating-rules-protecting-air-travelers-with-disabilities.html

Friday, April 6, 2012

Jindal MD speaks out against Jet Airways insensitivity: Jan 2008

Dear Colleagues,

I remember it was Christmas vacations of 2007, Ms. Sminu Jindal was travelling to Bangkok for a family vacation with her husband, two minor children and  a maid. She has been a frequent flier due to her professional commitments and probably never faced any problem earlier.

Ms. Jindal visited Thailand with her family on Jet Airways flight 9W064 on December 25 from Delhi to Bangkok in Business Class and also returned by the same airliner on January 01 2008.

At the time of boarding at Delhi Airport , the airline staff handed her over an indemnity bond with a dictate that unless she sign the same she would not be allowed to board the flight.  The indemnity Bond said that she would not hold the Jet Airways responsible for any harm to her during the flight. The apathy, ignorance and lack of sensitivity and training on the part of airliner shocked her. She had been travelling all over the world as per the demands of her profession but for the first time an airline asked her to sign such a ridiculous bond before being allowed to fly.

She tore the bond they were waving at her and told them that she was of a firm mind and that she was a wheelchair user because of a road accident at the age of 11 that left her paraplegic. She also told them unless they make every heart patient and pregnant woman to sign a similar thing; she refused to be treated differently. The altercation spoiled her festive mood & vacation and caused her immense psychological discomfort. That was not all despite prior request which she always make for an aisle chair to be provided she was denied the same on the grounds that there was no provision for the same.

Her ordeal didn't end there. When she traveled by return sector flight on January 1, 2008 the airline again did not provide any aisle chair (a small wheelchair that can be used inside the aircraft) saying that they don’t have any provision for it nor they allowed her ultra modern collapsible wheelchair that could be easily folded and carried as handbag and fits well in to the cabin without causing disturbance to any co-passenger.

She stressed that such mobility devices are like a part of any disabled person’s body and give them freedom to move about with dignity. The ground staff was not even trained on how to talk to a passenger with disability. The staff often spoke to the attendant pushing the wheelchair about me rather than speaking to her. Not only the staff but also the Manager seemed to highly insensitive. She was surprised that if that was the state of affairs at Jet Airways who claimed to be disabled friendly then what would be the situation in other domestic airliners operating in the country.

On her return she took up the issue strongly with the DGCA through a complaint since the issue was not about her being treated like that, but how airlines still refuse to provide basic assistance and dignity to physically-challenged passengers despite rules, regulations, requirements and legal mandate in place that ensures dignified & equitable access to all. DGCA issued a notice to the JetAirways on 10 Jan 2008. JetAirways tendered a public apology and it was thought that that the issues will settle down and the airline will mends its ways.

Svayam thereafter actively participated in several rounds of making a Civil Aviation Requirement on the Carriage by Air of Persons with Disabilities in 2008-2009. Most suggestions put forward by Svayam were incorporated in the present CAR on Carriage of Persons with Disabilities. However, the ground realities have not changed since then and we continue to see that several airlines continue to flout the DGCA's CAR with impunity.

Here are some of the media coverage on the issue in January 2008:

Disability Rights DLUhttp://disabilityrightsdlu.blogspot.in/2008/01/experiences-of-sminu-jindal.html

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Supreme Court Issues Notices on Jeeja's Petition against SpiceJet

Dear Colleagues,

Please refer to my earlier post on an incident wherein disability rights activist Jeeja Ghosh who was forcibly deplaned from a Goa-bound SpiceJet flight from Kolkatta in February because the pilot felt she was unfit to fly. On Jeeja's petition, honorable Supreme Court of India has issued notices to the Union Government, Airliner and the DGCA.

A bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana P Desai issued notices to the Union government, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and SpiceJet on her petition accusing the private airline of subjecting her to traumatic treatment on February 19 and depriving the organizers of her expertise during the international seminar.

"Jeeja Ghosh has experienced similar experience before. In 2008, she was forced to undergo a medical examination before being allowed to board an Indigo flight from New Delhi to Kolkata," the petitioner said and sought an investigation into the incident.

"These acts of discrimination which have left disabled people very upset have continued unabated despite the enactment by the Central Government of clear and binding directives prohibiting discrimination against disabled persons in air transport," said Jeeja.

She requested the apex court to direct "SpiceJet to adequately compensate the petitioner for loss of money, wasted time and the humiliation and trauma suffered during the unsavoury incident".

This case coupled with the uproar in the disability sector has pushed the Government of India/ DGCA too hard to take a swift action against the Airliner and if required amend the Regulations to include penalty clauses, if need be.

The result has been several meetings with the stakeholders and now constitution of another committee to suggest changes in the existing CAR to make it more inclusive and give it more teeth.We hope this would not be another lip service and another rule book to meet defiance rather than implementation that we see with the existing CAR.

The story has been covered by



Monday, April 2, 2012

JetBlue airways fined for inaccessible website


JetBlue violates disability rules, gets punished

JetBlue is in news again, and this time also not for good reasons. Few weeks back a lawsuit was filed against JetBlue airways for inadequate accessibility of check-in kiosks at the airport in addition to the inaccessibility of their website. This time the reason for the legal action is violation of rules protecting air travelers with disabilities and for failing to disclose when flights sold by the carrier were being operated under a code-sharing arrangement. The airline is being penalized $600,000 for the mistake.

The Department of Transportation ruled that $350,000 of the amount would have to be paid by the carrier, while $250,000 could be used to establish a task force to audit the carrier's handling of passengers with disabilities create a disability customer care center and enhance the carrier's website to improve its information for travelers with disabilities

source: http://www.infosysblogs.com/web2/2010/12/jetblue.html

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Green MEP says Easyjet incident with Dr. Sabry not acceptable

Dear Colleagues,

Please refer to my earlier post on Easyjet's appalling behaviour with businessman Dr Martin Sabry earlier in January this year. After boarding the wheelchair user Dr. Sabry was humiliated by the flight purser  by asking him to read aloud the safety card in front of other passengers and say "I can" after each sentence. And then the purser told squarely that they will not take him!

Reacting sharply on the incident Green MEP Keith Taylor slammed the budget carrier stating that the incident was unacceptable. His report is although non-legislative, but will become the official position of the Parliament.

However, we see a similar kind of pattern emerging from a series of such cases whether Easyjet (France) or in Spicejet (India)! Even in Jeeja's Case, the reply of the Hon'ble Indian Minister of Civil Aviation has been same where airliner seem to have escaped with just a public apology!

This is absolutely not acceptable by any norms.. neither in India nor in any part of the world. Exemplary punitive action and economic penalties are only solutions that the airliners respect the basic human rights and raise their awareness on these issues if need be. You can't escape by saying that the staff was not sensitized or that the staff has been sacked.

Here is the report from Reduced Mobility Rights


Easyjet Incident With Disabled Dr. Sabry Unacceptable, Green MEP says

Published on Friday, 23 March 2012 11:25

Written by Roberto Castiglioni

Green MEP Keith Taylor slammed budget carrier Easyjet, stating that the incident involving disabled businessman Martin Sabry was unacceptable.

"Clearly, the Easyjet incident was unacceptable," Green MEP Keith Taylor told Reduced Mobility Rights.

"Paragraph 58 of my report which covers regulation 1107/2006 underlines the importance of appropriate training of flight crews to cover the ´different and individual needs of PRMs`," the European member of Parliament explained.

"In my capacity as a member of the Parliament's Transport and Tourism committee (TRAN), I met with  many stakeholders over a number of months, in order to inform the first draft of the report "on the functioning and application of established rights of people travelling by air", which covers regulation 1107/2006," Green MEP Keith Taylor told Reduced Mobility Rights.

The report will be voted on next week in the European Parliament's plenary session. "I am confident that it will be adopted, Taylor said.

Although non-legislative, the report will become the official position of the Parliament.

Disabled businessman Martin Sabry, 39, from Cambridge, arrived at Gatwick airport on 4 January 2012 to catch the Easyjet flight to Montpellier, France.

After boarding the aircraft, Mr Sabry was harassed by the flight purser who had him removed from the airplane. "I was made to read safety-card aloud in front all other boarding passengers and say "I can" after each sentence," he says, remarking the unnecessary humiliation. "We will not take you," the purser told him.

"I am pleased to hear of the unreserved apology given to Dr Sabry," Keith Taylor said. "However, it is extremely regrettable to hear that due to lack of resources, the CAA will not be able to pursue this case further."

In the days following the incident, Carolyn McCall OBE, Easyjet's Chief Executive Officer, apologised in person to Martin Sabry. "Our chief executive Carolyn McCall called Dr Sabry directly to apologise," A spokesperson for Easyjet told Reduced Mobility Rights.

The budget airline received a verbal warning from the UK CAA. "In relation to the Dr Sabry’s situation, we have been in touch with EasyJet regarding the incident, to remind them of their obligations to people with reduced mobility," A CAA spokesperson said.

Despite the incident representing a clear violation of Regulation 1107/2006, there will be no enforcement of the law on Easyjet. The Department for Transport is trailing behind most EU states, having failed to provide the CAA a set of sanctions and adequate enforcement powers. "Unfortunately, [enforcement] powers are not very flexible or proportionate and make it difficult for us to take action," Dame Deirdre Hutton, Chair of the Civil Aviation Authority said.

"I think that there needs to be better implementation by the National Enforcement Bodies of the rules that do exist," Keith Taylor said. "Paragraph 3 of my report acknowledged gaps in Member States' implementation and enforcement of Regulation 1107/2006. In subsequent paragraphs the report talks of the need for the Commission to work with NEBs in order to "promote a uniform and prompt enforcement of air passenger rights."

Civil Aviation Minister responds to Parliament Question on Incidents of discrimination against passengers with disabilities



Dear Colleagues,


The Minister- Civil Aviation, in response to questions raised in the Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha on the recent incidents of harassment of passengers with disabilities, replied as below:


GOVERNMENT OF INDIA

MINISTRY OF CIVIL AVIATION
LOK SABHA
UNSTARRED QUESTION NO 1353



ANSWERED ON 21st March, 2012



Differently abled passengers in flights

1353. SHRIMATI INGRID MCLEOD
ADV. GANESHRAO DUDHGAONKAR
SHMRIMATI DAVANA GAWALI PATIL
SHI GUTHA SUKHENDER REDDY
SHRI YASHVIR SINGH
SHRI NEERAJ SHEKHAR
SHRI BIBHU PRASAD TARAI
SHRI M B RAJESH
SHRI SUGUMAR K
SHRI GURUDAS DASGUPTA
SHRIMATI BOTCHA JHANSHI LAKSHMI

Will the Minister of CIVIL AVIATION be pleased to state :-
(a) whether incidents of ill-treatment meted out to some differently abled passengers by the private airlines have come to the notice of the Government recently;(b) if so, the details thereof;(c) whether the matter was enquired into by the Government/DGCA;(d) if so, the follow up action taken by the Government thereon;(e) whether most of the private airlines are not adhering to the rules and regulations prescribed for differently abled persons;(f) if so, the action taken by the Government against such airlines alongwith the details of proper facilities for carrying the disabled persons at various airports; and(g) the detailed guidelines in place for air passengers particularly differently abled persons and the steps taken to ensure their compliance by private airlines thereon?

ANSWERS

MINISTER OF CIVIL AVIATION ( SHRI AJIT SINGH )

(a) and (b): Three cases of harassment faced by physically challenged passengers were reported to the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), two in the year 2011 and one in 2012. The details and Action Taken report on these cases are annexed. No such case reported to the DGCA against Jet Airways during the period.

DGCA has issued Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) on “Carriage of Passenger by air with disability and/or with reduced mobility”, which is being strictly adhered to by the airlines. The said CAR is available on DGCA website. Violation of the provisions of CAR is punishable under the Schedule VI of the Aircraft Rules, 1937. 

ANNEXURE

Incident 1: On 10th May 2011, Mrs. Mansuri Shabana and Master Mansuri Lukmaan (Child) were travelling alongwith an infant on Kingfisher Airlines flight on Ahmedabad-Mumbai-Goa sector. They were handed over to the crew on board operating the flight at Ahmedabad. At Mumbai, the ground staff met the passengers on arrival and boarded them on the connecting flight to Goa. On this flight the set of cabin crew realized that the blind passenger was accompanied by an infant and a child. The same was reported to the commander and the ground staff that this carriage was not permissible on safety grounds. The passenger later travelled by Spicejet flight.


The matter was taken up by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) with airlines, Kingfisher Airlines has taken following corrective actions to avoid recurrence of such incidents:
a) The crew and the concerned ground services staff at Ahmedabad have been issued warning letters and have been strongly briefed. 
b) A reiteration of the carriage policy for such travel has been circulated to all concerned. 
Incident 2: Sh. Mohammed AsifIqbal (Disabled from Eyes) faced harassment while travelling on Kingfisher Airlines flight IT 3571 on 30th May 2011 at Patna airport. An indemnity bond was obtained from him. 


Matter was taken up with Airlines by DGCA. As an immediate action, Kingfisher Airlines have terminated all staff involved, including the Airport Manager at Patna airport. In view of this, Kingfisher Airlines reiterated the guidelines to all airports indicating following:
a) A blind Guest who has no medical complications and is perfectly capable of taking care of his/her personal needs must be accepted on Kingfisher flights and is not required to sign an Indemnity form.
b) Such a guest is allowed to travel alone and no companion/escort is required to travel along. 
c) Staff should treat such guest with special care and be sensitive to their needs.
d) In the event of flight disruptions, staff should ensure that these guests are handled with priority. 
Incident 3:   Ms. Jeeja Ghosh, a person with cerebral palsy, was de-boarded from the Spicejet flight SG-803 at Kolkata on 19.2.2012. 

Matter was taken up with Spicejet who informed that when the passenger Ms. Jeeja Ghosh reported at the check-in counter for her boarding card, she did not declare herself to be a person with any disability or with reduced mobility. She was provided assistance to board the flight. As informed by Spicejet, while being seated, the cabin crew observed froth, saliva with traces of blood oozing out of Ms. Jeeja Ghosh’s mouth with her hands folded in an abnormal manner and she was also not in position to respond to the Cabin Crew’s questions. Accordingly, the matter was report to the Pilot-in-Command (PIC) and a decision was taken to de-board Ms. JeejaGhosh on account of her medical condition.

Matter was taken up by DGCA with the airlines. To avoid recurrence of such incidents, Spicejet has re-examined the responsibilities of the pilot-in-command with reference to the provisions of the applicable Civil Aviation Requirements and he is being counseled to display more empathy to deal with such situation in future. Spicejet has also informed that they are issuing necessary instructions to reinforce the existing procedures on handling of persons with disability. 

In this regard, a meeting on the rights of passengers with disability and reduced mobility was held on 12.03.2012 under the Chairmanship of Joint Secretary, M/o Civil Aviation. It was decided that a Committee will be constituted under the chairmanship of JS, MoCA with representatives of stake holders as members to look into best practices in the world on the matter, latest UN/ICAO guidelines on dealing with air travel of persons with disabilities and give a suggestion for appropriate modifications of the CAR concerned and for the improvement of designs of airline websites, accessories and facilities/infrastructure etc. especially meant to facilitate comfortable air travel for the persons with disabilities.



Jeeja Ghosh's Response


Jeeja has reacted very sharply on this reply since this seems to be most insensitive one especially when the DGCA officials have given the version of the airliner as the version of the Government/Ministry. This is despite the fact that DG himself had met Jeeja and seen for himself the disability. Here is how Jeeja responded to the Minister's response, when shared with her by our colleague Muralidharan from National Platform for the Rights of Disabled:





"I am absolutely shocked  to receive this (response). I am groping for words to defend my case. All I can say is this is an absolute misinterpretation of the entire situation. To begin with: 


1. I am a person with cerebral palsy with very obvious and visible physical disability.  There is nothing to conceal regarding my impairment. The very fact that I was provided assistance speaks for it unless all the Spicejet staff members are of "reduced mental faculty" and lack understanding. 


2. I was bleeding from the mouth is another lie. I counter this by saying that if Spicejet is projecting itself as a responsible airlines with concern for its passengers they should have called for medical assistance and not de-boarded me in a humiliating manner. The doctor was called only after the flight had left without me and confirmed that I was totally "fit to fly". I must admit I do drool. But at that point of time I was comfortably seated in the flight reading a book. There was no drooling leave alone bleeding.


3. Also the Assistant Manager of Spicejet at Kolkata airport Mr. Vishu Ramesan did not mention any such incident of bleeding when he spoke to my senior Dr. Reena Sen, Executive Director of Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy.  The very fact Spicejet issued a ticket for me to travel on 20th February 2012 and accepted a letter of complaint from me makes it even more obvious the contradiction in the Spicejet's statement. Unfortunately I was unable to avail of the flight to Goa on 20th February as the humiliation from the Spicejet unnerved me psychologically making me "unfit" to travel.


4. No such episode of bleeding from the mouth was reported to my family either when a ground staff from Spicejet came to drop me home after the entire fiasco. Also Mr. Ramesan came with a tablet apology letter from the Spicejet on 20th February 2012 - why should Spicejet issue even a tablet apology letter when they were so sure they were not wrong?


I am made a humble attempt to defend my case. I will request to forward this response to the concerned authorities. I have also narrated the incident verbally to Mr. Ashok Kumar, Joint Secretary, Civil Aviation when I met him at his office on 20th March 2012. 


Thank you for your support.
Yours sincerely
Jeeja Ghosh"


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sensitization Meeting for Airliners at DGCA Office 20.03.2012

Dear colleagues,

DG Mr. EK Bharat Bhushan chairing the meeting
Today i.e. on 20 March 2012, E K Bharat Bhushan, Director General, Civil Aviation chaired a Disability Sensitization Meeting and ensured that senior officials from all airlines were present at 3 PM in his office. This showed the seriousness on the part of the DG to immediately contain the growing incidences on discrimination and harassment to persons with disabilities during flying.  During this meeting a presentation on the needs of different disabilities was made by a group of persons with disabilities /activists from the disability sector at the request of the civil aviation regulator. The team from disability sector included Mohammed Asif Iqbal (PWC), Jeeja Ghosh (IICP), Rahul Cherian (Inclusive planet), Subhash Chandra Vashishth and Abha Negi (Svayam). 

Jeeja Ghosh and Asif Iqbal talking about common 
myths about disabled
The objective of this sensitization exercise was to ensure that the airliners understand the specific needs of different categories of persons with disabilities while traveling by air and also the legal obligations on the part of airlines as per the DGCA's CAR on carriage of persons with disabilities and that such incidents are not repeated in future. Mr. Rahul Cherian cautioned the airlines that violation of CAR invites heavy penalties and six months imprisonment hence, deviations should be immediately checked.

DG E K Bharat Bhushan who sat through the entire meeting, despite his busy schedule said, "In view of growing concerns experienced by physically disabled persons while travelling by air, we held an interactive session with scheduled domestic airlines."  

He also clarified to the airliners that any such incident will not be tolerated in future.The following decisions were taken in the meeting  :

(a) In next seven days, DGCA will collate a list of DO's and DON'Ts (received from the disability sector) in dealing with persons with disabilities/ reduced mobility and forward them to the domestic airlines who will have to display them on their website within three days of receiving it.
(b) An independent  link/button displaying instructions/provisions of assistance to disabled with Do's and Don't would be provided on the home page of the website of all the scheduled airlines.
Attendees at the meeting from different airlines
(c) All airlines will organize an orientation programme of all airport managers regarding their  responsibility while handling people with reduced mobility who are travelling by air, who in turn will sensitize the ground staff within a given time frame. 
(d) DGCA' s CAR for handling passengers with reduced mobility already exist and should be followed by all concerned in letter and spirit.
Reps from Kingfisher and Indigo
(e) It was brought out during the meeting that a large responsibility of providing assistance at the airport was of the aerodrome operators who were not represented in the meeting and the airlines could only assist while the persons with disabilities reached them or in the aircraft. It was decided that seperate instructions will also be issued for airport operators on handling persons with reduced mobility.


NEW DELHI: In another 10 days, domestic airlines will have to display a list of dos and don'ts on their websites for handling passengers with reduced mobility. 

DGCA Team at the meeting
The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by the chief of the directorate general of civil aviation. At the meeting, people with reduced mobility - who allegedly faced harassment at the hands of domestic airlines in the past few months - met senior officials of the airlines concerned on Tuesday to explain the difficulties they face. 

DG E K Bharat Bhushan said, "In view of growing concerns experienced by physically disabled persons while travelling by air, we held an interactive session with scheduled domestic airlines." 

"In the meeting, we have decided to prepare a detailed list of dos and don'ts in the next seven days for handling people with reduced mobility travelling by air. Scheduled domestic airlines shall display these on their respective website," Bhushan said. 

Representatives from airlines and disability sector
Other decisions taken at the meeting included the creation of a separate button on the web home page of airlines to display the instructions in this regard. 

"Airlines will organize an orientation programme of all airport managers regarding their responsibility while handling people with reduced mobility who are travelling by air, who in turn will sensitize the ground staff. Civil aviation rules for handling passengers with reduced mobility already exist and should be followed by all concerned in letter and spirit," said a senior official. 

Separate instructions are also to be issued for airport operators on handling people with reduced mobility. 

A presentation on the requirements of disabled people was made at the meeting by Mohammed Asif Iqbal who is blind. Iqbal was denied a boarding pass - due to his disability - by Kingfisher Airlines last year when he was to flying from Patna to Ranchi. 

"It is obvious the government is taking the matter seriously. Senior airline staff of all domestic airlines was present and through our presentation we highlighted the various needs of people with different disabilities. The meeting was attended by over 50 people of which around 5 to 7 represented disability rights groups," said Iqbal.