[AI] Aviation norms for disabled passengers revised

Vikas Kapoor dl.vikas at gmail.com
Thu Sep 6 23:49:09 EDT 2007

Aviation norms for disabled passengers revised 
                                                              Ananth Krishnan 

Definition of disability not clear: rights groups

Airlines shall not insist on escort

CHENNAI: Following objections from disabled rights groups, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has revised the civil aviation requirements
for disabled passengers that were put into effect on August 15. 

Disabled rights organisations had voiced their protest against the implementation of the guidelines stating that they were not clear enough in their definition
of disability. The requirements also made it necessary for disabled passengers to be accompanied by escorts. The disabled rights groups claimed this was

The revised requirements define a disabled person or a person with reduced disability as "any person whose mobility when using transport is reduced due
to physical disability (sensory or locomotor, permanent or temporary), intellectual disability or impairment, or any other cause of disability, or age,
and whose situation needs appropriate attention." 

The requirements also state that airlines "shall not insist for the presence of an escort," acknowledging that "many persons with disabilities do not require
constant assistance for their activities." If a passenger declares "independence in feeding, communication with reasonable accommodation, toileting and
personal needs," he or she will not have to travel with an escort.

                 "Welcome relief" 

"The revised guideline is a welcome relief," C. Mahesh, advocacy coordinator of the Community-Based Rehabilitation Forum told The Hindu on Thursday. "The
earlier version was draconian and would have greatly hampere d independent air travel for persons with disabilities." 

Mr. Mahesh said that the earlier requirements had not made a distinction between disabled passengers and those with a medical condition. 

"Thankfully, this has been done away with," he said. "This distinction is very important because not all disabled persons have a medical condition. Disability
is not an illness but a condition that is more or less permanent in nature." 

Mr. Mahesh added that the DGCA had written to the disabled rights groups for feedback on the revisions. The revised requirements will come into effect on
October 1. 

The issue of aviation requirements for disabled passengers has come under the spotlight following the prevention of Rajiv Rajan, a cerebral palsy patient,
from boarding an Air Sahara flight in Chennai on June 18 for failing to produce a medical certificate. Mr. Rajan was also forced to take a sedative pill
before boarding a Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Chennai two years ago.

According to the new requirements, airlines will no longer have the authority to take such steps. 

Disabled passengers who require assistance only in embarking or disembarking, or needing "reasonable accommodation" in flights, cannot be asked by airlines
to produce medical certificates.

                 Right to travel 

For the disabled rights groups, the revisions are a welcome measure. Mr. Rajan, also an activist with the disabled rights non-governmental organisation
Vidyasagar, told The Hindu that the earlier requirements, in particular the dema nd for escorts, infringed on a disabled person's right to travel.

"If the August 15 draft were to come into effect, it would affect my right to movement," he said. 

"I travel at least three times a month, so it is very difficult for me to find an escort on my own. It is a violation of my right to be independent."


Vikas Kapoor,
MSN Id:dl_vikas at hotmail.com, Yahoo&Skype Id: dl_vikas,
Mobile: (+91) 9891098137.

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