At the Department of Transportation, we are committed to improving access for everyone to our transportation systems, and ensuring that all passengers receive the respect they deserve before, during and after their trips. One of the most effective tools for pursuing these goals is the Air Carrier Access Act, the landmark law that prohibits discrimination in air travel on the basis of disability.
Last month, representatives of the aviation industry, advocates for persons with disabilities, and current and former government officials gathered to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the ACAA. This celebration was hosted jointly by the DOT, the Air Transport Association and the National Council on Disability.
The Air Carrier Access Act, enacted in 1986 and signed into law by President Reagan, is one of the most significant civil rights triumphs in our nation’s history.
Just 25 years ago, passengers with disabilities frequently suffered degrading and discriminatory treatment from airlines. Individuals were often required to travel with a companion--regardless of their physical ability--and too often carriers failed to provide even basic assistance, such as providing wheelchairs in a timely manner. In addition, policies often varied from airline to airline or even between flights on the same carrier.
Today, thanks to this act, air travelers can be assured of fair and equal treatment regardless of disability. DOT’s rule implementing the ACAA, issued in 1990, sets out specific requirements to ensure equal access to air transportation.
And, because our commitment to equal access to air travel continues, DOT is planning additional measures to ensure equal treatment for passengers with disabilities.
The Department recently asked for public comment on a proposal to require carriers to make their web sites and self-service kiosks accessible to people with disabilities. In addition, DOT has taken other steps to make air travel easier for person with disabilities, including holding forums to ensure that air travelers with disabilities and airlines know their rights and responsibilities, and monitoring carrier compliance with the ACAA regulations and issuing fines when carriers fail to comply with the rules.
Helpful information on the ACAA and the rights of air travelers with disabilities is available on DOT’s Aviation Enforcement website. If you’re a traveler with a disability who believes an airline is violating your rights, let us know by filing a complaint at this site, or through the Department’s toll-free disability hotline at 800-778-4838.
DOT understands that everyone deserves equal access to transportation, and we will continue to help make air travel – and all modes of transportation – accessible to all.