The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Advisory Committee on Accessible Air Transportation (ACCESS Advisory Committee) is working on a negotiated rulemaking (RegNeg) to create an agreement between advocates for people with disabilities and the airline industry to ensure greater access.
The Aviation Consumer Protection Division of the US Department of Transportation receives complaints from members of the public regarding air travel consumer issues. According to their website:
The Office of the Assistant General Counsel for Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, including its Aviation Consumer Protection Division, monitors compliance with and investigates violations of the Department of Transportation’s (Department) aviation economic, consumer protection, and civil rights requirements.
Consumer protection compliance and enforcement activities relate to areas such as unfair and deceptive practices and unfair competition by air carriers and travel agents, deceptive airline advertising (e.g., fare, on-time performance, schedule, code sharing, etc.), and violations of rules concerning denied boarding compensation, ticket refunds, baggage liability requirements, and charter flights.
The Office is also very active in civil rights enforcement. The Department is charged with prohibiting discrimination by airlines and has committed to protecting consumers in this regard. The Office focuses on ensuring that individuals with disabilities obtain nondiscriminatory access to the air transportation system and that the public is not subjected by airlines to unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin or sex during the course of their air transportation.
HLAA filed comments with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in response to their draft Advisory Circular (AC), Access to Airports by Individuals with Disabilities.
Department of Transportation’s ACCESS Advisory Committee
Hits the Runway
HLAA was selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to represent people with hearing loss on the newly chartered Advisory Committee on Accessible Air Transportation (ACCESS Advisory Committee). Lise Hamlin, director of public policy at HLAA, attended the first meeting of the Advisory Committee on May 17-18.
The Disability Branch of TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has issued a paper, “What to Expect”. TSA’s Disability Branch distributes these papers each month as part of their Awareness series, where they spotlight do's and don'ts for screening passengers with a particular disability or medical condition.
Due to recent media reports regarding a Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General review of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security screening activities at airports, TSA is implementing policy and procedure changes that will affect all passengers, including passengers with disabilities, in order to better achieve TSA's mission of protecting the nation's transportation systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce.
HLAA is thrilled to announce that Senator Tom Harkin, long time advocate for people with disabilities who was a sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act and is now chairman of Senate Committee Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) introduced two bills ensuring greater access to captioning at the movies and on airlines. According to the news release issued March 13 by the HELP Committee:
WASHINGTON – As more than 200 million passengers begin their summer travel, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reminds travelers of recent modifications to airport screening procedures and provides tips for travel preparations.
WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced the launch of TSA Cares December 22, 2011, a new helpline number designed to assist travelers with disabilities and medical conditions, prior to getting to the airport. Travelers may call TSA Cares toll free at 1-855-787-2227 prior to traveling with questions about screening policies, procedures and what to expect at the security checkpoint.
Hearing Loss Association of America has been advocating for visual access to air travel information for a very long time. We have filed comments with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and held meetings in concert with other consumer organizations urging DOT to mandate as visual display of audible information at the gates and other areas, as well as providing captions for in-flight videos. DOT requires that captioning be available on all safety and information related videos, but still does not have a mandate for in-flight entertainment, such as movies or other videos provided.