With all of the advances in equality in accessibility, it seems the airline industry may have some catching up to do. Read a young woman’s plea in her own words, and find out how you can join in on the effort:
My name is Sally O’Neill. I am 18 years old. Like most girls my age, I love animals, going to the theatre with my friends on the weekend, and skiing in the winter. I dream of traveling after high school. I want to see places like Ireland, Italy, and India. Unfortunately, an accessible airplane ride is not an option for me.
I am writing this because I believe the airline industry should have to comply with the mandates of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. I have cerebral palsy. That means although I have a normal mind, I still have uncontrollable spastic limb movement. I cannot talk or hold my own body upright. I need my wheelchair to keep me in the right posture, and to restrain my arms and legs. The problem is the airline companies make all disabled people check their wheelchair with other baggage. I have visited my grandparents in Ohio and Florida many times. My parents have spent up to 7 hours trying to keep me seated between them. I don’t have the motor function to sit upright on my own. The airplane chairs are not big enough for a seat insert and do not support my upper body. When my shoulders are not in front of my hips, I go into an extension pattern. Due to my spastic limb movement, my parents have to physically restrain my arms and legs. I have a strong tone, so this is not easy. None of us can eat, drink, read, or make ourselves comfortable in any other way. As I get older and bigger, each flight gets more difficult.
There are many other disabilities that have this same need for different reasons. I don’t think it makes sense that all other places open to the public are made accessible to every type of disabled person, especially transportation companies, but the airline industry is allowed to force the disabled into able-bodied standards or medical transport. I’ve heard of an airline removing a whole row of seats to accommodate a Sumo wrestler. If they can do that for a special athlete, why can’t they do it for a person with special needs? Have you ever wondered why you see so few people with cerebral palsy on airplanes? I think it’s because the airlines do so little to accommodate their needs to ensure their comfort. It’s discrimination. I looked up online how easy it is to remove any seat on the plane. I’m not asking for the bathrooms to be made accessible.
I am proposing that the first seat in the first row of the airplane be removable and tie-downs be installed. These tie-downs are used in automobiles to keep the chair in place during crashes. They are as strong as anything on a plane. I really believe with some small modifications airplane transportation can be made accessible to everyone. I hope you see the need and join me in this change.
If you want to get involved, here is Sally’s Petition:
We petition the airline industry to better accommodate travelers who use wheelchairs. We propose that the first seat in the first row of the airplane be removable with the capability to have tie-downs inserted when needed to accommodate a wheelchair, or that the airlines develop a solution to this urgent need.
For more information, or to sign the petition, please visit the following website: www.acommunityforeveryone.org.Contact: Susan Blanchard Family Support Director United Cerebral Palsy of Oregon& SW Washington11731 NE Glenn Widing DrivePortland, OR 972201-503-777-4166 x232.