#India- A better deal for differently abled flyers in the air


Ramya Kannan, 
 
27-Nov-2012, The Hindu
 
CHENNAI: The Asok Kumar Committee, which examined ways to make air travel hassle-free for persons with disabilities and reduced mobility, has assessed the situation in airports across the country and made recommendations to ease their travel travails.
 
The committee was constituted by the Ministry of Civil Aviation to review the existing Civil Aviation Requirements on Carriage by Air of Persons with Disability and/or Persons with Reduced Mobility (CAR), examine best practices in the world and present a detailed set of guidelines to improve the experience.
 
The report, which was ready in October, highlights the need to bring in amendments to the existing CAR and covers other important areas hitherto not covered.
 
“What we have tried to do is to make air travel comfortable for all and with dignity,” says Mr. Asok Kumar, chairperson of the committee. “With every step there are numerous difficulties if you put yourself in the shoes of persons with disabilities, and different agencies are constantly shifting responsibilities. We have addressed all that.”
 
It has been recommended to clearly allocate responsibility between airports and airlines to avoid delays and inconvenience and standardise equipment and facilities in consultation with government departments overseeing implementation of the Persons with Disabilities Act. Internal audits should be introduced to ensure that assistive devices are available in good condition and persons handling these are well trained.
 
The draft, which is being circulated for comments, insists that responsibilities be fixed on each stakeholder — not just airport and airlines, but agents, ticketing websites, airport operator and CISF.
 
A complaints resolution officer to deal with these issues relating to persons with disabilities must be appointed at each airport. An ombudsman should be appointed to settle complaints between different service providers and passengers.
 
A comprehensive disabled — friendly airport design has also been drawn up, according to committee member Rahul Cherian Jacob of the Inclusive Planet, Centre for Disability, Law and Policy.
 
The committee has urged the Ministry to ensure compliance of recommendations within three years at major airports, and then at others in a phased manner.
 
Significantly, it has built into the recommendations penal provisions for all violators, including private airlines

 

Differently-abled people seen as threat by aviation security in India


This is the internationally recognized symbol ...

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Aarti Dhar,The  Hindu

It’s an outright insult, says Disabled Rights Group

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) regulations say that there is high probability of differently-abled people carrying weapons, explosives and other dangerous materials with them, and therefore, there is ample reason to be more alert and wary.
The Disabled Rights Group (DRG) has described the regulations as “disability insensitive and outright insult and violation of the human rights of persons with disability.”

According to the regulations, “Screeners should be thoroughly briefed that the possibility of carrying weapons/explosives and other dangerous materials through such passengers is higher than a normal passenger and therefore, these passengers need to be checked with care.”
RTI query

In reply to a query filed under the Right to Information by the DRG, the Airports Authority of India said: “There is no scope for leniency in respect of invalid/disabled/sick persons during the pre-embarkation screening/procedures. On the contrary, there is ample reason to be more alert and wary.” As a result, disabled passengers face undue harassment at the hands of untrained security personnel. More often than not, disabled passengers using a wheelchair are asked to “stand up” or “transfer” from their personal wheelchair to sub-standard airport wheelchairs. What the security personnel do not know is that most wheelchair users use customised wheelchairs and cushions.
The U.S. scenario

In contrast to the Indian scenario, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a dedicated helpline to assist travellers with disabilities and medical conditions. Passengers can call 72 hours ahead of travel for information about what to expect during screening.

TSA Cares serves as an additional, dedicated resource specifically for passengers with disabilities, medical conditions or other circumstances or their loved ones who want to be prepared for the screening process prior to flying. When a passenger with a disability or medical condition calls it, a representative either provides information about screening that is relevant to the passenger’s disability or medical condition, or refers him/her to disability experts at the TSA.

“Nowhere in the world will a disabled person be asked to take off leg braces, or explain medical attachments like a leg bag that holds urine,” said DRG convener Javed Abidi.
Rights violation

“This is not only humiliating but a violation of human rights. We are not asking for any leniency in security procedures. After all, civilised nations of the world have developed systems to ensure that disabled passengers are frisked with due respect to their dignity,” he noted.

Although, Directorate of Civil Aviation guidelines clearly mention that a passenger is allowed to take her/his own wheelchair to the boarding gates, security personnel bully those who are not aware of their rights.

“What is even more shameful and embarrassing is that countries that have a greater security threat and stricter security programmes have defined guidelines for screening passengers with disability. At no airport in the U.S., the U.K., the European Union and even countries like South Africa, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Korea, Thailand, and UAE will a disabled passenger using a wheelchair be asked to ‘get up’ from her/his wheelchair,” Mr. Abidi said.