The deadline is fast approaching for Congress to improve air travel safety for people who use wheelchairs.
In a Sept. 5 bulletin to stakeholders, United Spinal Association noted a Sept. 30 deadline to improve flying for wheelchair riders. “If our lawmakers fail to reach an agreement by then on legislation reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) — legislation that includes a number of strong provisions that United Spinal supports — then Congress will likely pass a stopgap bill postponing the deadline by months or even as long as a year,” the association said.
United Spinal added that the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act in July, but that the Senate’s bill is with the Senate Commerce Committee.
“The Senate can choose to pass its own bill, or it can pass the House bill before Sept. 30 and send it to the President to sign into law,” United Spinal said.
Provisions that could become law, the association said, include improving training standards for assisting passengers with wheelchairs and storing wheelchairs on the aircraft; creating new federal accessibility standards involving boarding/deplaning, communications, and storing manual wheelchairs inside the passenger cabin; improving the process for disability-related complaints; and continued study of onboard wheelchair restraint systems, which could lead to passengers remaining in their wheelchairs while onboard aircraft.
From United Spinal’s “Support Safe Air Travel for Wheelchair Users” page, advocates can send messages to the bills’ sponsors.
“Even if you have e-mailed your members of Congress about this issue before,” United Spinal said, “please do so again now as the situation has changed with the passage of the House bill, and as a result the message we are sending to Congress has been updated.”