Sunday, January 29, 2012

Access Rights of the Disabled routinely denied by airliners and railways

Dear friends,
Several things in India, including the access rights of disabled are so routinely denied that quite a few have just stopped even questioning them. Be it non availability of para transit systems to reach the nearest accessible bus shelter/city bus service/ accessible Metro or absence/inaccessibility of the pedestrian walkways to even venture out on the roads to reach the public transport bays/platforms.
The disability law that requires access at all public places including the modes of transports is almost 16 years old, but doesn’t seem to bother the airline operators (despite the Civil Aviation Requirements on carriage of persons with reduced mobility binding on them!) nor the Indian Railways which faces several Public Interest Litigation Petitions in various High Courts. The most recent being heard in the Mumbai High Court that is hearing a matter on inaccessibility of Railway platforms and Coaches that was widely covered by media. Click here to look at what the Honorable  Court had to say on the same.
Now our Hon’ble Minister for Social Justice realizes that even the airline operators are routinely defying the law and had to take this initiative. We commend it and hope the Minister, Civil Aviation takes the right steps to “Let the Law Prevail”!
NEW DELHI: Union Social Justice Minister Mukul Wasnik has asked Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh to make ramps compulsory in all airlines to facilitate boarding by physically challenged persons.
The request, in a letter to Singh, came after Wasnik saw a person lifting a disabled to help him board the plane because there was no ramp to help the wheelchair. The minister also expressed concern at the insufficient availability of Ambulifts in airports.
Wasnik asked Singh to advise all airline operators to provide access to their aircraft through ramps instead of stairs. The Persons with Disabilities Act requires the air transport sector to adopt measures to ease the access to the disabled to aircrafts, airports and toilets.
The absence of Ambulifts in most airports makes the operators provide stairs for passengers to embark, requiring those on wheelchairs to be physically lifted.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Easy Jet discriminates against disabled passengers yet again

Dear Colleagues,

And yet another incident that shocks every person with reduced mobility.."Am I the next to be targetted?" The airliners continue to harrass and discriminate against persons with disabilities with their limited understanding. Its EasyJet this time. This is despite tall claims about what they offer to persons with disabilities/or with those having specific requirements at their website at link:

In June 2011,  they debarred a boy with disability for reason that his wheelchair was too heavy!  In another incident in December 2011, a blind women was not allowed by the airliner to board because she wasn't carrying the necessary documentation for her guide dog to fly (though the guide dog was wearing the official harness and collar tag!) The lady Ms. Joanna Jones had been flying for last 12 years with the guide dog! The excuses continue to amaze many of us each time! 

Not long ago, Easy Jet  was fined 60 thousand Ponds  for discriminating with three passengers with disabilities.  However, they don't seem to have learnt. Here is the recent incidence of January 2012.

Cambridge businessman thrown off flight "for being disabled"

14 January 2012

A Cambridge businessman was left feeling “degraded” and “demeaned” after he was thrown off a flight for being disabled.

Dr Martin Sabry
Dr Martin Sabry
Dr Martin Sabry, 39, from Clarkson Road, has been in a wheelchair for 17 years after a mountaineering accident left him paralysed.
Since he founded his own technology company, aIDEAS, in 2005, he has traveled with different airlines every four to six weeks on business with no problem.

But when he went to board his easyJet flight from Gatwick to Montpellier, in France, last Wednesday (Jan 4) he was put through an ordeal that left him in utter shock and disbelief.

He said: “As I arrived at the easyJet check-in desk, I was handed a laminated safety card and asked ‘are you ok with that?’

“The card said: ‘Are you able to make your way to an emergency exit unaided?’

“I said yes and didn’t think much of it, but then I was asked the same question a further two times before I boarded.

“Once on the plane the purser said: ‘can you walk to the emergency exit?’

“I explained I am paralysed from the chest down and even though I am quite active, I cannot walk.”
With this Mr Sabry was escorted off the plane and made to wait in the walkway while all other passengers boarded.

He said: “I asked to see the captain and explained I had travelled with them hundreds of times before but the purser still refused to let me board or see the captain.

“As the other passengers were boarding he handed me the laminated card and asked me to read it aloud – it was extremely degrading.”

Mr Sabry was then told Ground Control said he could board, but the captain of the plane, even though it was not delayed, had overruled their decision and called for take off.

After the plane had left, Mr Sabry waited for around four hours to see easyJet managers who profusely apologised and put him on a flight first class to Toulouse, 500 miles from where he needed to be and paid for a taxi for the rest of his journey.

Mr Sabry, a previous winner at the Cambridge News Business Excellence Awards, arrived at his destination at midnight, 12 hours after he was due to be there.

He added: “It was so demeaning and unbelievable the way they treated me and the purser was obnoxiously rude.
“I am not new to being in a wheelchair, but if this had happened to me when I first became paralysed I don’t think I would ever have shown my face in public again.”

A spokeswoman from easyJet said: “We are very sorry to hear about any inconvenience or upset that was experienced by Dr Sabry on his recent flight.

“Safety regulations state that all passengers travelling alone must be able to make their way to an emergency exit unaided – it seems there was a misunderstanding regarding this [Mr Sabry was asked if he could walk to the exit].

“However staff offered every assistance to Dr Sabry to arrange his transport for the next available easyJet flight at no cost.”

The Disability Discrimination Act states that since July 2007, “it is illegal for an airline, travel agent or tour operator to refuse to allow a disabled person to board an aircraft when they have a valid ticket and reservation.”