For passengers who use wheelchairs, air travel in the United States can be an embarrassing, uncomfortable and perilous prospect. Read the full story here.
Last Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released a Final Statement of Enforcement Priorities Regarding Service Animals that clarifies rules governing service animals on flights for passengers, airlines, and other stakeholders involved in commercial air travel. The statement also specifies the department’s enforcement priorities, clarifies service animal species limitations, and lists the specific situations in which it is required for handlers to provide official documentation to the airline before boarding.
Access a summary of the new rules and enforcement priorities on the Department of Transportation website.
Toyota announced five finalists for its Mobility Unlimited Challenge at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas yesterday. Launched in 2017, the Mobility Unlimited Challenge is a contest that invites engineers, inventors, and designers from around the world to rethink the conventional wheelchair and develop a new way for people with lower-limb paralysis to get around. Each of the finalists will receive a grant of $500,000 to develop their concept further, with the final winner receiving $1 million in Tokyo in 2020.
Beginning in January 2019, airline passengers can search the U.S. Department of Transportation website to determine an airlines’ track record of handling wheelchairs and other mobility devices. A new law sponsored by U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., requires air carriers to be more transparent, obliging them to provide monthly reports that are publicly accessible and which detail the number of wheelchairs, checked bags, and motorized scooters lost, broke, or mishandled during flights.
The law was actually passed two years ago, but the Department of Transportation delayed its implementation until Duckworth–a veteran and wheelchair user herself–urged U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to force airlines to make the data — which they already collect each month — available to the public.
Lonely Planet’s Martin Heng has created the first-ever accessible phrasebook.
Accessible Travel PhraseBook features disability-specific words and phrases translated into 35 different languages, pronunciation guides, vocabulary related to hotels and transportation and even food allergies.
With this free book downloaded onto a traveler’s device, they can ask, Hay escalón en el baño (Are there steps into the bath?) while in Mexico, or, Pues-je visiter La Tour Eiffel en fauteuil roulant (Can I visit the Eiffel Tower in a wheelchair?) when touring Paris.
free accessible phrasebook
Mobility International USA promotes disability rights by facilitating international exchange for travelers with disabilities. They have several media publications including 1) a general “News & Events” page with travel blog posts from around the world 2) “A World Awaits You (AWAY)” periodical about specific regions such as Africa, and 3) “Ripple Effects,” a podcast of interviews with recent exchange travelers.
The New York Times’ travel section interviews the authors of a new book on traveling with a disability. Read more
The Department of Transportation is considering sweeping rules to make airlines more accessible for travelers with disabilities. Read more