Friday, August 30, 2013

Airline staff remain insensitive to female passengers with disabilities - offered to lift instead of getting a wheelchair

And here is another incident that exposes the hollow claims of airlines of being sensitive to the passengers with disabilities. We haven't heard about this from Indigo who is otherwise considered as "Disabled Friendly" - perhaps the lack of training and sensitivity among the staff and greed to earn more money is what seems the reason behind this. Here is the coverage from The Hindu.

Smriti Kak Ramachandran

NEW DELHI, August 30, 2013
As she left home to represent the country at the wheelchair tennis tournament in Bangkok as India’s first ever woman participant, Madhu Bagri was not prepared for a trip that included being forced to pay extra for her sports wheelchair, being left stranded inside the aircraft for an hour and an uncooperative staff that offered to “lift her” instead of helping her out in a wheelchair as is mandated by law.

Ms. Bagri, who travelled to Bangkok for the International Tennis Federation-conducted tournament on August 18 from Ahmedabad, told The Hindu that her ordeal began at the airport, where IndiGo asked her to pay Rs.4,200 for the second wheelchair. This when officials had assured her earlier there would be no extra charge for the second wheelchair.

“At the time of booking the tickets on May 29, I was assured that the second wheelchair will not be counted as extra baggage. The airline executive told me that they could not give it in writing, but would make a note on my travel details. On the day of the journey [August 18], I called the customer care in the afternoon and was again once reassured the same. But when I reached the check-in counter, I was forced to pay more. Since there was hardly any time, I paid up.”

The flight from Ahmedabad to Bangkok with a stopover in Delhi was much worse. On landing in Delhi, Ms. Bagri was told that the airline’s wheelchair was too big to enter the aisle. “I was made to wait inside the aircraft for an hour; they couldn’t find a wheelchair that could enter the cabin. The airline staff was insensitive and offered to lift me instead of getting me the wheelchair.”

She claimed she wrote to the airline on reaching Bangkok, but did not get a satisfactory response. On her way back to India on August 25, she was once again asked to pay for the second wheelchair. “The second time I was asked to pay, I refused. It was totally shocking that despite the earlier assurance and my subsequent complaint, they still expected me to pay. The ground staff was rude and unhelpful even on the return journey and had to borrow a wheelchair from another airline to help me get off the aircraft, because I absolutely refused to let them carry me.

What if they’d have dropped me or there had been an accident? I am appalled at the treatment meted out to me. What really stunned me was that after everything the ground staff actually want a tip!”

Annoyed and angry over the treatment, she questioned the airline’s claims of being sensitive to differently-abled persons.

“While I was stranded in the aircraft, I noticed the staff paying attention to small details, like counting soft drinks can. But it didn’t occur to them to ensure that there are appropriate wheelchairs for those who need them. World over there are facilities that make travel and commuting easy for differently-abled persons, but we still have a long way to go in India. We compromise at every step, the least we can expect is some cooperation,” she said.

IndiGo airlines was contacted for response, but had not responded till the time of going to press.


Source: The Hindu 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Delta Flight fails to give reasonable accommodation & made passenger crawl to his seat

Baraka Kanaan had to make the humiliating crawl two times despite assurances in advance from the airline ‘that he would be received and given reasonable accommodation for his disability.’

By Nina Golgowski / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Baraka Kanaan, unable to walk, was made to crawl down two Delta airplane aisles and across the tarmacs after the airline failed to provide him with adequate wheelchair accommodations, his lawsuit claims.

A full-time wheelchair user was forced to crawl off two Delta Airlines flights and across the tarmac after the airline twice failed to provide necessary equipment to help him on and off, according to a shocking lawsuit filed in federal court Tuesday.

Baraka Kanaan of Maui, Hawaii, says he had to perform the humiliating crawl to reach his wheelchair two times in July 2012 as Delta employees in Massachusetts and Hawaii helplessly watched "fearful of liability."

The former college professor and current nonprofit head, said the airline had promised adequate wheelchair accommodations but upon time to board and land offered no assistance.

"They gave me an ultimatum. You can find a way off this plane on your own, or you can go back to Maui where you live," he told the Daily News. "And that forced me to crawl, even though I had given them 48 hours' notice and they knew that I was [unable to walk]."

According to his lawsuit, Delta assured him weeks before his flight from the Nantucket Airport "that he would be received and given reasonable accommodation for his disability."

Instead, according to his filing, "in his nicest suit, he crawled hand over hand through the main cabin and down a narrow flight of stairs and across the tarmac to his wheelchair.


“There were a great number of people watching, and the experience caused Mr. Kanaan great physical and emotional suffering."

Reached by the Daily News for comment Delta refused based on pending litigation.

Kanaan is handicapped and unable to walk after a car accident in 2000 left him with severe spinal injuries. He claims his injuries were further inflamed during his crawl that came just days before he was to undergo a spinal fusion surgery.

Adding insult to injury, he says: "there was an unused lift only a couple hundred feet from where we sat. JetBlue's lift was not being used. It could have easily been used on that plane."

According to the Air Carrier Access Act, Airports and carriers of 31 or more passengers are required to "provide boarding assistance to individuals with disabilities by using ramps, mechanical lifts, or other suitable devices where level-entry boarding by loading bridge or mobile lounge is not available."

After successfully dragging himself off his first flight, Kanaan promptly filed a complaint with Delta.


The airline offered him a $100 voucher for his trouble and assured him it would not happen again with his return trip scheduled for two days later on July 29.

To his complete horror, it did.

Upon his arrival he was informed that they did not have the necessary safety equipment to board him but offered "a piece of cardboard to put down so that his clothes wouldn't get dirty," according to his complaint.

"Thus, Mr. Kanaan was again forced to crawl across the tarmac, up the stairs of the aircraft, down the aisle, and hoist himself into his seat on the aircraft, which was a physically painful experience for Mr. Kanaan. In the process he felt his spine twist and pull in awkward manners."

Delta allegedly then offered him 40,000 SkyMiles after this second horrific flight which, suffice to say, Kanaan refused explaining he’d never want to fly with them again.

"It's not right what they're doing," he said. "For the last year I've been mistreated by Delta, just continuously belittling my situation.


"And first they issued a formal apology letter to share with you, just acknowledging every point of their fault. ‘We did this, we did that, we did this, we're sorry, we're very sorry,' and then they came back and said, 'you know it's not our fault. We're not going to do anything about this.'"

In a four-minute video posted to his Facebook page Saturday, Kanaan implored the public to not only boycott Delta, but contact them, the American Civil Liberties Union and their local Disability Rights Center to help end the airline’s "abhorrent" and "shocking” behavior.

“Don't do it for me, do it for the over 5,000 people last year who had complained about Delta mistreatment,” he wrote with his video.

"I just think that there must be something that we can do," he said. Though Kanaan’s allegations are shocking, it is far from the first time Delta has been accused of forcing passengers to crawl off their plane.

In 2008 another Delta passenger performed the same humiliating crawl off two flights, 53-year-old Florida retiree Julianna Dombrowski told

Dombrowski did not file a legal complaint against the airline telling the news site that though the act was “disgraceful,” she was not sure if Delta or the airports were to blame.

Kanaan is seeking compensatory, treble and punitive damages for violations of the Air Carrier Access Act, the Americans With Disabilities Act, negligence, emotional distress and discrimination. 

(Video on facebook) 

Source: NYDailyNews

Children with disabilities refused seats in UK Train for they may "spoil" ambience

Dear Colleagues,

This is still happening and happening in societies considered to be advanced! I have serious doubts about their "advancement" if they have no awareness on simple issues of diversity as this one. I hope what the Train Manager said or did was her individual reaction and none of the passengers travelling in the first class had any role in this! 

The acceptance for diversity or say persons with certain disabilities continues to be abysmally low in so called "advanced societies" as well! This is troublesome and calls for urgent measure for raising awareness. 

Tuesday 13 Aug 2013 6:15 pm

Special needs children as young as four were told to sit on the floor of a train rather than in empty first-class seats because they would ‘spoil’ the ambiance of the carriage.

The youngsters from the Stage Right Theater Group, based in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, were on their way back from a trip to the Edinburgh Fringe festival when they found standard class packed to the brim, meaning they had to sit outside the toilets.

When volunteers asked the train manager if they could move to the near-empty carriage of the Cross Country train, they were given short shrift and reportedly told the first-class passengers ‘do not need the likes of your children spoiling their journey’.

Even though other families paying the standard fare were allowed into the more expensive section, the female manager would not be swayed.

Special needs kids told they would 'spoil' journeys of first class passengers
First-class snub: The children were denied a spot in first class despite other 
standard-fare payers being allowed to move (Picture: PA/File) 
After repeated polite requests to let them move, she is also said to have told the charity workers: ‘If you don’t stop talking to me, I will throw you all off. Then how will you get back to Motherwell?’

Rebekah Aitken, 25, who runs the group at Carluke Leisure Centre every Sunday, was clearly angered by the treatment of her pupils, aged four to 11, on the service from Edinburgh Waverley.

She told the Daily Record: ‘We were discriminated against because of the disabled kids we had with us.

‘I’m embarrassed for the kids as they were paraded in front of the passengers and made to feel like an inconvenience.

‘The train manager thought they weren't of the standard to be allowed to sit in the business carriage but she moved other kids and parents, who had paid the same train fare, into those seats.’

Ms Aitken’s Stage Right cohort, Elaine Berry, was equally miffed by their snub, saying: ‘Their memories of what had been a brilliant day are now of her and their train journey home.’

However a spokesman for the Arriva-owned CrossCountry apologized for the children’s mistreatment, adding that it would investigate the incident.

He said: ‘We are sorry to learn of the circumstances of the Stage Right Theater School on their recent journey.

‘We expect our staff to be polite and helpful at all times and it is extremely disappointing if their behaviour was as described. We will investigate the circumstances as a matter of urgency and will be in touch with them as soon as this is completed.

‘We would like to offer our sincere apologies to Rebekah, Elaine and all the children for the poor quality of their journey back to Motherwell.’

The children’s plight was met with disgust by campaigners, with one going by the name of Skippy McCarthy beginning a petition to Scottish first minister, Alex Salmond, to investigate the discrimination.

He called CrossCountry’s response a ‘worthless apology’ that suggests ‘as time passes, nothing will be done’.

He added: ‘These children lost a day of their lives through the behaviour of an employee of this rail company but, more importantly were shown that they count for nothing.

‘Not only should they be reimbursed for all expenses incurred on that day but they should receive free annual business travel passes for a minimum of 12 months on all Scottish transport facilities.

‘As to who pays for this, they have already paid enough, having been subjected to this humiliating and belittling experience.’


Friday, August 2, 2013

New York City adopts "more active" symbol of Access

Moving forward from a static and ubiquitous "handicapped" symbol - a blue and white logo of a person leaning back in a wheelchair known as the international symbol of access , which  has been under fire from disability activists who feel the logo paints disabled people as passive - the New York City has adopted a new international symbol of access. 

The Old Symbol

International Sign of Access adopted by ISO is
considered as passive by disability activists
The old symbol of access was approved by the International Standards Organization (ISO), and the symbol is generally placed wherever access has been improved for people with disability issues. It was first designed by Susanne Koefoed in 1968 - although she didn't give the symbol a head. That was added a while later by Karl Montan.

The Accessible Icon Project  

The project has been pushing for an update to the symbol, one that is more modern, and that depicts a more active figure. According to the group, the original design focused too much on the wheelchair, rather than the person who's sitting in it, and depicts that person as stiff and passive.

They say this is representative of the treatment that many people with disabilities have faced. "People with disabilities have a long history of being spoken for, of being rendered passive in decisions about their lives," expresses the the group on its website.

"The old icon, while a milestone in ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) history, displays that passivity: its arms and legs are drawn like mechanical parts, its posture is unnaturally erect, and its entire look is one that make the chair, not the person, important and visible." it says further. It wants to introduce a new design, one that is active and engaged, with a focus on mobility and movement, but still in line with other ISO-approved pictograms.

The new Icon of access

The new design has been created by designer Sara Hendren, who has engaged in a little guerrilla marketing over the years, including illegally stickering over the original design with this new one.
In the beginning of their project, Sara Hendren and Brian Glenney stuck their new design over existing handicapped signs around Boston.
In the beginning of their project, Sara Hendren &
Brian Glenney stuck their new design over existing
handicapped signs   around Boston 
in a little guerrilla
marketting [photo credits Darcy Hildreth -]

Hendren's new design looks more like a person wheeling him or herself independently. Hendren says the real goal of the campaign isn't just to replace the existing symbol with her new design - it's to get people thinking.

There's a much bigger question to ask about who is abled and who is disabled and what we think about dependence and need,'' she said. "I'm just trying to start a discussion where we reevaluate our assumptions and our attitudes.'

The new logo is a more active logo designed by activists at Gordon College in eastern Massachusetts. The NYC will start displaying the logo all over the city starting this summer.

 "It's such a forward-moving thing," said Victor Calise, commissioner of the New York mayor's Office for People With Disabilities.

The movement initially started when the group behind the new logo started placing its stickers over old handicapped signs around the Gordon College campus, and eventually stickers of the final design were distributed throughout nearby Boston. While getting the logo around has largely been a "stealth operation" up to this point, visibility from the biggest city in the country should help it gain more traction. 

That will make a splash," said Wayne Sailor, co-founder of disabled advocacy groupTASH and professor of special education at the University of Kansas. "I predict it will be a real trendsetter."
New Sign of Access that more "active"

Icon Graphic Elements of New Access Sign

1 - Head Position
Head is forward to indicate the forward motion of the person through space. Here the person is the "driver" or decision maker about her mobility.

2 - Arm Angle 
Arm is pointing backward to suggest the dynamic mobility of a chair user, regardless of whether or not she uses her arms. Depicting the body in motion represents the symbolically active status of navigating the world.

3 - Wheel Cutouts 
By including white angled knockouts the symbol presents the wheel as being in motion. These knockouts also work for creating stencils used in spray paint application of the icon. Having just one version of the logo keeps things more consistent and allows viewers to more clearly understand intended message.

4 - Limb Rendition
The human depiction in this icon is consistent with other body representations found in the ISO 7001 - DOT Pictograms. Using a different portrayal of the human body would clash with these established and widely used icons and could lead to confusion.

5 - Leg Position 
The leg has been moved forward to allow for more space between it and the wheel which allows for better readability and cleaner application of icon as a stencil.

Is this ADA Compliant?

The short answer is yes. Federal and state officials have determined that slight variations on the historical International Symbol of Accessibility are generally permissible as long as the symbol clearly displays a wheelchair and signifies accessibility.

Forward thinking companies such as The TJX Companies, have utilized another progressive symbol by the graphic designer Brendan Murphy. We are grateful that companies like Talbots have embraced the Accessible Icon as well.

Different states have different regulations concerning the size, color, and placement of the symbol. For instance, in Massachusetts, accessible parking spots must be identified by a vertical parking sign, but symbols on the ground are not required. We recommend that you review state and local regulations before painting the Accessible Icon on parking spots or placing the sticker on signs.

Indian Initiatives

Enabling Unit at UCMS, New Delhi India under 
the active advocacy of Dr. Satendra Singh have 
already adopted this logo (photoCredits UCMS)
Dr. Satendra Singh of University College of Medical Science (University of Delhi & Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital, Delhi, India has not only promoted this sign in his college but also written to the Chief Commissioner Disabilities, Govt. of India  to consider revising the current ISA with the new one for India which portrays dynamism and focuses on person rather disability.

He further stressed in his representation that these small steps are highly significant as how Persons with disabilities are represented in society. 

Sources: The Verge; LaughingSquid;  npr; Accessible Icon Project; Enabling Unit;

Read related post: New Handicapped Sign rolls in to New York City