For Immediate Release
Contact: David Card
WASHINGTON, DC – The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is extremely disappointed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) final rule on Traveling by Air with Service Animals.
The final rule erodes many of the protections afforded to people with disabilities traveling by air. The rule makes it more difficult for individuals to travel with a service animal by limiting the definition of service animals to just dogs and allowing airlines to treat emotional support animals as pets and in many cases to allow airlines to require advance notification and documentation from service animal users. The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) and its regulations are intended to ensure a safe and accessible air transportation system for all people with disabilities. DOT’s decision to revise the regulations with respect to service animals in this instance runs contrary to the broad protections against discrimination intended by Congress in passing the ACAA in 1986. NDRN is deeply concerned about the negative impact it will have on people with disabilities.
“Once again, in an almost systemic manner, DOT has decided to prioritize the airline industry and corporate interests over the rights afforded to people with disabilities under the law,” said Curt Decker, executive director of NDRN. “NDRN remains absolutely committed to preserving the rights of all people with disabilities who choose to travel by air.”
Transportation systems are too often unavailable, inaccessible or unequal to people with disabilities. “While it is no secret that we still remain far from a truly accessible transportation system in this country, the DOT rule will only serve to exacerbate existing inequities for people with disabilities participating in air travel and will instead almost exclusively accommodate the interests of the airline industry” continued Decker. NDRN has long advocated to ensure federal laws relating to accessibility of transportation are protected and preserved.
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The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. Collectively, the P&A/CAP Network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.