ACAAA and Air Travel Survey

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on October 13, 2021 # Advocacy and Policy

Airplane in the skyIt’s been all over the news lately. Men and women with disabilities deboard an airplane only to discover that the wheelchair they depend on for mobility and independence has been damaged along the way. In May of 2021, Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) tweeted a video of a woman whose chair was damaged, saying, “I know from personal experience that when an airline damages a wheelchair, it is more than a simple inconvenience. It was like taking my legs away from me again.”

But broken wheelchairs are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to air travel issues for Americans with disabilities. Despite the passage of the Air Carriers Access Act (ACAA) in October of 1986, a law which requires air carriers to provide passengers with disabilities the opportunity to preboard if additional time or assistance is needed, timely assistance in boarding and deplaning, proper stowage of assistive devices, and appropriate seating accommodations, there is much more to be done and Congress has a vital role to play in bringing air travel access into the twenty-first century.

That is why the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation has been working with other disability rights groups like Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) to push Congress to pass the Air Carriers Access Amendments Act (ACAAA).

The ACAAA (H.R. 1696/S. 642) would do several things to strengthen equitable access to air travel. Specifically, it would allow a private right of action, as most other civil rights laws do, which would finally give passengers with disabilities appropriate redress of their grievances. The ACAAA would also ensure new airplanes are designed to accommodate the needs of people with disabilities by requiring airlines to meet defined accessibility standards. These standards will address safe and effective boarding and deplaning, visually accessible announcements, seating accommodations, lavatories, and better stowage options for assistive devices.

Over the summer, we called on our advocates to urge their Representatives to cosponsor H.R. 1696. That call to action is still live and we encourage everyone who supports accessible air travel to lend their voice to this fight. We hope to gain as many cosponsors as possible on this important legislation. The more support we garner, the easier it can be to move through the process.

We also hope you might take a few minutes to fill out an online survey so we can further understand the current air travel experience of people with disabilities. Please also share this post, so anyone with a disability can provide important feedback.

Speak up. We’re listening.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.