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OST-2015-0246 - Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel: Consideration of Negotiated Rulemaking Process

 

OST-2012-0098 - Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel
OST-2011-0182
- NPRM - Service Animal Relief Areas at Airports and Mechanical Lifts for Passengers with Mobility Impairments
OST-2011-0177 - Accessibility of Web Sites and Automated Kiosks at US Airports
OST-2011-0098
- Nondiscrimintation on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel - Accessibility and Stowage of Wheelchairs - NPRM
OST-2008-0273 - Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel - Amendment to Air Carrier Access Act
OST-2008-0272 - Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel
OST-2006-23999 - Accommodations for Individuals who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing or Deaf-Blind
OST-2005-22298 - Medical Oxygen and Portable Respiration Assistive Devices
OST-2005-20952 - Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel - Technical Assistance Manual
OST-2004-19482 - Nondiscrimination on Basis of Disability in Air Travel - NPRM
OST-2002-11473 - Reporting Requirements for Disabilty Related Complaints
OST-1999-6159 - Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel
OST-1999-5099 - Compensation for Damage to Wheelchairs and Other Assistive Devices

 


Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability in Air Travel: Consideration of Negotiated Rulemaking Process

OST-2015-0246

Issued November 30, 2015 | On File at Federal Register December 3, 2015

Notice of Intent

As Published in Federal Register

The Department of Transportation announces that it is exploring the feasibility of conducting a negotiated rulemaking concerning accommodations for air travelers with disabilities addressing inflight entertainment, supplemental medical oxygen, service animals, accessible lavatories on single-aisle aircraft, seating accommodations, and carrier reporting of disability service requests. The Department has hired a convener to speak with interested parties about the feasibility of conducting this Reg Neg. The Department anticipates that the interested parties may include disability advocacy organizations, airlines, airports, airline vendors providing wheelchair assistance, aircraft manufacturers, IFE system manufacturers, movie studios, other IFE content providers, service animal training organizations, and other Federal agencies that have a regulatory interest in these issues such as the Department of Justice, the Federal Communications Commission and the United States Access Board.

By: Kathryn Thomson


 

December 21, 2015

Request for 30-Day Extension to Comment Period

The below organizations are writing to request an extension of the public comment period for the Department of Transportation’s Notice of Intent to determine the feasibility of conducting a negotiated rulemaking on seven issues under the purview of the Air Carrier Access Act. The notice was officially published for comment on December 7, 2015.

We are concerned that the current comment period does not provide sufficient time to allow all stakeholders the opportunity to fully contemplate the impact of engaging in a negotiated rulemaking on the outlined issues, which are of critical concern to people with disabilities. Some of the issues under consideration have been pending for a number of years while others have been more recently presented for discussion. As a result of the upcoming holidays, the 30 day comment period is effectively reduced by nearly two weeks. The notice and comment process would be more effective if stakeholders had sufficient time to consider and comment on the efficacy of conducting a negotiated rulemaking on each of these issues.

By: Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, Easter Seals, National Association of the Deaf, National Disability Rights Network, National Federation of the Blind, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Paralyzed Veterans of America, National Council on Independent Living, United Spinal Association


 

Comments of Dena Gasner

Attachment: A Stark Reminder: Autistic in the Air

My name is Dena Gassner and I am a wife, mother, grandmother, parent to an autistic son, and an autistic. I fly frequently. I find the inconsistency that I endure in soliciting and obtaining accommodations when traveling.

My necessary accommodations include expedited TSA screening (crowds cause incapacitating anxiety), pre-boarding and seating near the front of the plane as possible. My limited income disallows me from paying for premium seating, but again, anxiety makes it so I ask for this option.
Due to the invisible nature of my disability, again and again I find myself challenged and doubted by personnel throughout the process. I carry a card from my doctor. I notify the airline. But I continue to have difficulty.

My son, on the other hand, is more externally manifesting in his autism. He rarely deals with this kind of discrimination. However, this process is no less challenging for me than it is for him.
I serve on two national boards (GRASP and the Arc) and as an advisory board member for the Autism Society. I am seeking my PhD while living in the dorm at age 56. I am not easily discouraged or defeated. Yet, I continue to endure increasing anxiety when traveling because this happens.
Please let me know if there is any way I can provide testimony or provide my experiences which have at times, left me incapacitated upon arrival. One such experience is noted as attached.

 

December 28, 2015

Re: Comments of Disabiltiy and Communication Access Board

The importance of rulemaking on the issues identified cannot be emphasized enough for our state. We are an island state and virtually 100% of our inter-state and intra-state travel is by air carriers. Our inter-state travel is a minimum of five hours in duration, thus making a simple need of going to the bathroom a necessity and not an option. The Jack of accessible toilet facilities can preclude a person from traveling to or from Hawaii completely due to the distance. Being so dependent upon the availability and accessibility of air travel often creates a logistical barrier for any person, and much more for a person with .a disability. Additionally, our state is the only state with an animal quarantine program to ensure our rabies-free status, a public health status that is highly valued but, by necessity, creates some additional hurdles for individuals with animals (i.e. service animals).

By: Francine Wai

 

Comments of Monica McClain

I have seen too much that was ridiculous. But, the Airlines need to shoulder some of this blame for allowing untrained animals like Pigs, parrots, barking yapping unhousebroken dogs and cats, and finally that Turkey on an Airplane as an Emotional Support Animal. I am one who well knows the comfort an animal can bring. But that said I believe that only dogs and the miniature horses can and should be Service Animals.


 

Issued December 29, 2015 | On File at Federal Register January 4, 2016

Notice of Intent; Extension of Comment Period

As Published in Federal Register January 5, 2016

This document extends the comment period for the notice of intent that was published in the Federal Register on Monday, December 7, 2015. The notice announced that the Department of Transportation is exploring the feasibility of conducting a negotiated rulemaking concerning accommodations for air travelers with disabilities addressing in flight entertainment, supplemental medical oxygen, service animals, accessible lavatories on single-aisle aircraft, seating accommodations, and carrier reporting of disability service requests.

By: Kathryn Thomson




January 15, 2016

Comments of Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO

In its notice of intent, the DOT announced that it is "exploring the feasibility of conducting a negotiated rulemaking...concerning accommodations for air travelers with disabilities addressing inflight entertainment, supplemental medical oxygen, service animals, accessible lavatories on single-aisle aircraft, seating accommodations and carrier reporting of disability service requests."

As aviation's first responders, flight attendants are trained to respond in emergency situations, command response in the cabin, and protect the crew and passengers onboard. Flight attendant members of the AFA have raised concerns with the issues listed above, and shared with us their thoughts on appropriate measures to reduce confusion and mitigate potential conflicts. For these reasons, AFA applauds the DOT for its intent to address the feasibility of a negotiated rulemaking process, and we stand ready to assist the Department with its deliberations on these issues of particular significance to flight attendants.

By: Christopher Witkowski




January 20, 2016

Comments of International Air Transport Association

IATA has already had the opportunity to review the potential focus areas for the proposed rule with the Mr. Richard Parker, the DOT appointed convenor. During that meeting we reiterated our commitment to address these issues with an open mind on behalf of our member airlines. However, we expressed initial doubt as to whether we would be able to reach a satisfactory consensus on several of the seven proposed issues to justify a negotiated rulemaking. Specifically, we expressed doubts as to whether consensus could be reached on the following issues:

  • Inflight entertainment
  • Inflight medical oxygen
  • Accessible lavatories on single-aisle aircraft
  • Seating accommodations

IATA also proposes that DOT consider adding an eighth issue as a potential subject to include in a Negotiated Rulemaking: the potential for abuse of the Air Carrier Access Act requirement that airlines provide passengers with access to wheelchairs when traveling through the airport environment. We are concerned that airlines and the disabled passengers they support are being harmed by a number of non-disabled passengers who are requesting wheelchair support for reasons other than accommodating a disability. We believe there is a reasonable likelihood that IATA member airlines and representatives of disabled passengers could reach a consensus of potential regulation in this area that would ensure that those who require wheelchair support continue to receive it on a timely basis.

Counsel: IATA, Douglas Lavin, 202-628-9292




January 20, 2016

Comments of Los Angeles World Airports

The Committee is of the opinion that existing regulations tie airlines and others from making legitimate inquiries about the role a service animal perform in assisting a traveler with disabilities. Airlines specifically, are reluctant to inquire for fear of severe penalties that may be imposed if a person files a complaint.

Since the Committee suspects that Department of Transportation will not address this matter by indemnifying airlines attempting to address the abuse by able bodied individuals. The Committee believes equally severe penalties should be imposed on unscrupulous travelers who falsely claim their pet is a service animal. One possible action to address abuse may be requiring passengers to sign an affidavit each time they fly affirming their service animal is in fact a service animal. The in.dividual falsely claiming a pet to be a service animal would be subject to being charged with perjury under federal law. The Committee feels this would go a long way to alleviating the service animal abuse issue. Requiring a signed affidavit would also have the benefit of curtailing online vendors of false service animal documents.

By: Lawrence Rolon


January 21, 2016

Comments of Aerolineas Argentinas

The DOT announced that the Reg Neg would deal with the following matters: accessible inflight entertainment, supplemental oxygen, service animals, accessible lavatories on single-aisle aircrafts, seating accommodations and carrier reporting of disability service requests.

Aerolineas is a passenger carrier that flies regularly into and out of the United States, and it is committed to making flights accessible to passengers with disabilities. However, since the Technical and Commercial Departments of the company have raised concerns with certain issues listed above, Aerolineas has a significant interest in the outcome of this proceeding.

Due to these and other ongoing issues, Aerolineas supports the DOT's intent to address the feasibility of a negotiated rulemaking process, and would appreciate the possibility to assist the DOT with its deliberations on these issues of particular significance to the airline.

Counsel: Marina Avila Montequin, 54-11-3723-8228


January 21, 2016

Comments of the Airline Passenger Experience Association

APEX supports providing the same IFE to disabled passengers as is provided to other passengers in a realistic time period. The members of APEX are working to achieve this result. However, there are complex technological and cost limitations that need to be considered. While APEX is willing to engage in a negotiated rulemaking, for the reasons set forth, APEX does not believe this approach is in the public interest and recommends a traditional notice and comment rulemaking because:

  1. The Department’s expertise, previous decisions and work on this issue has shown it is in the best position to develop a balanced and workable rule;
  2. IFE systems rely on extremely complex multifaceted technology involving hardware, software and content, much of which is outside the jurisdiction of the Department, that can best be analyzed through traditional written comments and a transparent public forum, rather than an advisory board; and
  3. APEX and the Department have invested in a relationship that has resulted in an understanding of the issues that parties to a negotiated rulemaking likely do not enjoy. In essence, we would be starting all over again.

Notwithstanding these serious concerns, should DOT decide to move forward with a negotiated rulemaking, which includes IFE, APEX expects to play an active and constructive role on the advisory committee on behalf of the IFE industry.

Counsel: Kirstein & Young, Joanne Young, 202-331-3348


January 21, 2016

Comments of Airlines for America

If the Department decides to convene a Reg Neg the agency must publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing the decision move forward and, among other items, include a description of the subject and scope of the rule to be developed, and the issues to be considered. 5 USC 564(a).

The Department has hired convener Mr. Richard Parker from the University of Connecticut School of Law to help the Department determine whether an appropriate advisory committee can be assembled that will fairly represent all affected interests, negotiate in good faith, and offer a reasonable likelihood of reaching a consensus on the issues.

A4A will consult with Mr. Parker in his efforts to make recommendations to the Department on the feasibility of a Reg Neg in the area of accommodating passengers with a disability in air travel. However, we have no prediction of what Mr. Parker’s recommendation(s) will be and if his recommendation is to proceed by Reg Neg on any of the seven proposed topics, we make no prediction as to whether a Reg Neg will be successful.

Counsel: A4A, Douglas Mullen, 202-626-4000


January 21, 2016

Comments of American Council of the Blind

The regulations, clarified in 28 CFR 35.136, exclude the use of more exotic animals, identifying a service animal specifically as a dog trained to perform certain tasks, and in some circumstances a miniature horse. ACB believes that strengthening the DOT definition of service animal will align current airline regulations with the ADA as amended.

Alignment with the DOJ's definition will not only establish greater clarity on what is and what is not a service animal, but also assure that the ADA is consistent throughout federal agencies. This latter point may serve well for the DOT request for input on its desire to "establish safeguards to reduce the likelihood that passengers wishing to travel with their pets will be able to falsely claim that their pets are service animals."

Finally, ACB supports any action by an air carrier that would provide quantitative data on the number of requests for assistance through the airport. Such data will show the willingness by air carriers to meet the needs of travelers with disabilities, and identify laps in service where improvement is necessary. To this end, ACB urges the DOT to consider implementing such a regulation. Such data will not only be valuable for DOT and disability advocates, but the industry will also be able to identify areas where greater efficiencies can be discovered to improve service for all customers, effectively utilizing the resources it has available to serve individuals with disabilities.

By: Eric Bridges


January 21, 2016

Comments of Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities

As a general matter, the CCD believes that the US Department of Transportation should update the ACAA by issuing a NPRM to address all areas where experience has demonstrated that updates to the current regulations are needed. If USDOT decides to do a Reg Neg in the alternative, it should do so only in selected areas that are not readily resolved through the NPRM process, where a Reg Neg approach might be appropriate to address nuanced issues. For example, accessible lavatories on a single aisle flight would seem to be covered by the ACAA’s requirements so that USDOT would not need a Reg Neg process to provide guidance on implementing the law.

CCD fully endorses the comments submitted by the Paralyzed Veterans of America on January 21, 2016, and signed by numerous disability rights organizations.

By: Carol Tyson


January 21, 2016

Comments of David J. Nelson

When deaf people learn I represent NAD on airline-related issues, they always ask, “Why are the airlines not captioning the movies?” When I try to explain the NRPM process, they look at me like I am making this all up. They try to educate me (or sometimes they ask me to educate the airlines) – “Just turn the closed caption feature to on. It’s so easy!” They do it on their computer, their Blue-Ray/DVD devices, tablets, etc. They don’t understand why this process with the airlines has to be so complicated. Over the past few years, I’ve stopped explaining why and now just give them my frank assessment on why this is happening.

By: David J. Nelson


January 21, 2016

Comments of Delta Air Lines

Delta has already discussed the various potential topics for rulemaking with the Department’s appointed convener, Mr. Richard Parker. During this exchange Delta discussed the various initiatives it takes to better address the needs of its passengers with disabilities, and the feasibility of Negotiated Rulemaking for the proposed topics. In particular, Delta is concerned about the potential to reach consensus on several topics, including: inflight medical oxygen, inflight entertainment, accessible lavatories on single-aisle aircraft, disability assistance request response time monitoring, and seating accommodations. However, Delta believes that the topics of (1) defining service animals and (2) developing safeguards to prevent pets being falsely claimed as service animals, would be amenable to a Negotiated Rulemaking. Due to recent attempts by customers to bring animals onboard flights with suspect service potential, there is a need for clear guidance from the Department on these related topics. It is reasonably likely that both airlines and passenger access groups could reach consensus on definitions and policies that accurately define service animals, and prevent false claims, to ensure service animals are welcomed onboard future flights.

Counsel: Delta, Christopher Walker, 202-842-3949


January 21, 2016

Comments of Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund

We understand there is interest in exploring how many requests for wheelchair assistance airlines receive, versus how many complaints are lodged. Our question is, what would the significance of that finding be? Certainly, the number of requests will dwarf the number of complaints, but that does not necessarily mean that airlines are performing well. People with disabilities who are not properly served may lack the knowledge, ability, or time to file a complaint. Any number of factors may pose obstacles to their filing.

By: Marilyn Golden, 510-549-9339


January 21, 2016

Comments of Easter Seals Disability Services

ACAA prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in air travel. Despite progress, too many travelers with disabilities still encounter significant barriers, such as damaged assistive devices, inaccessible lavatories and in-flight entertainment, delayed assistance, and lack of seating accommodations. We hear often from travelers and there is clearly increasing frustration among people with disabilities about a system that does not fulfill the promise of the ACAA and that is inaccessible for too many people with disabilities.

Access for people with disabilities in air travel must move into the 21st century. Otherwise, people with disabilities will be left behind unable to compete in today’s job market or enjoy the opportunities available to other Americans. We must undertake efforts to ensure that air travel is as accessible, affordable, safe, comfortable, and reliable for people with disabilities as it is for travelers without disabilities.

By: Jennifer Dexter


January 21, 2016

Comments of National Association of the Deaf, Association of Late-Deafened Adults, California Coalition of Agencies Serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Cerebral Palsy and Deaf Organization, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network, Deaf Seniors of America, Hearing Loss Association of America, Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technology for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at Gallaudet University and Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Although airlines have provided IFE for nearly fifty years, it remains inaccessible for deaf and hard of hearing passengers who are entitled to the same enjoyment as hearing passengers. We pay the same price for tickets as hearing passengers yet do not receive the same service. Watching movies, newscasts, sporting events, and episodes of television shows help pass the time as passengers fly towards their destinations. Without captioned IFE, flights can feel even longer. There are many instances of captioned IFE on various airlines, and are more readily available on many international flights. However, such captioning access is limited and haphazard rather than uniformly available.

Accessibility is more than just captioned IFE for deaf and hard of hearing air travelers. Deaf and hard of hearing passengers deserve to have equal access to the basic services and amenities that are available to other travelers. The Consumer Groups request that additional issues be included in the scope of this Reg Neg process. The negotiations should be expanded to include: better training and proper procedures for pre-boarding of deaf and hard of hearing passengers; and visually accessible announcements at the gate and while in flight. Constructive dialogue on these issues would go a long way in ensuring deaf and hard of hearing passengers receive full and equal access to gate changes, flight delays, flight cancellations, special offers for passengers who give up their seats for a later flight, in-flight emergencies, flight diversions, and more.

By: Consumer Groups


January 21, 2016

Comments of National Disability Rights Network

The ACAA regulations must also be amended to strengthen enforcement by DOT. Too many travelers with disabilities still encounter significant barriers particularly damaged assistive devices, delayed or poor airport assistance, and problems getting appropriate of seating accommodations and a myriad of communication failures. A recent example of delayed assistance was the passenger left on board a United Airlines flight at Reagan National Airport waiting for staff with an aisle chair who was forced to crawl off the plane. DOT’s enforcement scheme needs to include penalties to airlines and airports for violations not just for pattern and practice or systemic violations.

DOT must be given additional power to direct airlines and airports to provide direct compensatory relief to travelers whose rights under the ACAA have been violated in appropriate cases. The ACAA regulations are not self-enforcing and strong enforcement action by DOT is needed to deter violations and to punish serious violations.

By: Curtis Decker


January 21, 2016

Comments of National Federation of the Blind

The National Federation of the Blind would call upon the Department of Transportation to enter into a negotiated rulemaking on the issue of nondiscrimination against individuals with disabilities.

We concur with the comments of the Paralyzed Veterans of America and other organizations representing members of the disability community to the extent that they believe a negotiated rulemaking is the proper means by which stakeholders can discuss relevant issues and work toward the achievement of viable solutions.

By: Parnell Diggs


January 21, 2016

Comments of Open Doors Organization

We appreciate that having such a Reg Neg process allows all stakeholders to be heard, even when no consensus on a given topic is likely to be reached, and thus may help the DOT when they subsequently draft the Rule. There are six topics open for consideration by this proposed committee, three old (inflight entertainment, supplemental oxygen and service animals) and three new (accessible lavatories on single aisle aircraft, seating accommodations and carrier reporting of disability service requests). We at ODO are concerned that the Reg Neg process could be lengthy and thus further extend the time that those most affected by the older issues must wait. This is especially the case for those who are deaf or hard of hearing and have been demanding equal access to inflight entertainment since 2000.

Our question then is, would the DOT consider removing the issue of inflight entertainment from the Reg Neg process? In the SNPRM it was not clear why the six issues were being addressed at the same time and if this was a case of all or nothing.

By: Laurel Van Horn, 773-818-7838


January 21, 2016

Comments of Paralyzed Veterans of America

For those areas identified in the notice of intent, proper framing of each issue will be critical in determining whether the underlying concerns are able to be addressed in a Reg Neg. The best example of the need to ensure appropriate framing is in the discussion concerning accessible lavatories on single aisle aircraft. The notice of intent addresses the “feasibility” of accessible lavatories on single aisle aircraft. We know that feasibility from an engineering standpoint is different from that of an economic standpoint. We need to ensure that conversations such as these would be framed in a way that allows the true points of divergence to be negotiated. We also seek an environment that will recognize and value the civil rights of passengers with disabilities.

Furthermore, each of the identified issues is independently important. Thus, as part of a Reg Neg they should not be ranked in importance or negotiated against each other in an attempt to achieve consensus. Instead, identified issues must be evaluated on their own merit. Each of these issues raises critical areas of concern for the disability community. Access to lavatories is as important to individuals with mobility needs as access to service animals is for people with invisible disabilities. We will not negotiate away the rights of people with disabilities in access to air travel in the name of consensus.

In addition, passengers with disabilities continue to encounter a variety of other barriers that make air travel difficult, if not impossible. Damaged assistive devices; inadequate training, wheelchair and guide assistance at airports, and aisle chairs; and inaccessible airplanes result in missed flights, injuries, and delays that lead to lost time and missed opportunities for people with disabilities. Changes must be made to ensure that assistive devices can be appropriately stowed without sustaining damage. Airplanes must be designed to accommodate people with disabilities and airlines must acquire planes that meet broad accessibility standards. Establishing design standards will ensure that features are usable for passengers with disabilities.

Improvements in training and policies would remove other barriers by ensuring passengers with disabilities receive needed accommodations and timely assistance. For example, travelers with disabilities—whether using wheelchairs or not—often encounter difficulties when being guided through airports. Even when they are diligent in notifying the airline and airport in advance about their needs, passengers with disabilities often arrive at the airport only to learn that their needs have not been properly communicated to the airline and/or airport onsite staff. Travelers with disabilities are sometimes assisted by numerous airline or airport staff, only making it more difficult for needs to be fully communicated and accommodated.

By: PVA


 

January 29, 2016

Comments of Air New Zealand

As our flights into and out of the United States include a separate Premium Economy service cabin (with a service offering that is quite distinguished from our Economy service), we would like to assist the DOT with its deliberations on whether Premium Economy should be considered as a different service class to Economy.

We would also be pleased to contribute to deliberations on how lnflight Entertainment could be improved to ensure appropriate access for customers with disabilities.

With regards to service animals, we agree that the term "service animal" should be better defined, to ensure that service animal provisions are not misused.

By: Neville Gillett, 64-9-256-4601


 

February 3, 2016

Comments of Hearing Access & Innovations

The biggest issue that all the airlines are having is the unavailability of English closed captions. Hollywood films, for some bizarre reason, offer only non-English languages such as Arabic and Chinese, while international movies have English subtitles. Therefore, Hollywood should add English closed captions to all films in order for airlines to be able to offer them.

Flying can be extremely frustrating and scary to a person with hearing loss when there is ineffective communication access, especially with gate changes and in an emergency situation. It is imperative that passengers with hearing loss be provided with the same information as travelers without hearing loss, including closed captioning on inflight content and hearing induction loops at service desks, for announcements, and for video monitors.

Exhibit A - Loops in Airports Around the World

Exhibit B - Video Monitors at Museums

By: Janice Schacter


 

February 8, 2016

Report Regarding the Feasibility of a Negotiated Rulemaking on Six Issues Involving Air Carrier Accommodations for Air Travelers with Disabilities

By: Richard Parker


 

Issued April 4, 2016 | On File at Federal Register April 6, 2016

Notice of Intent to Establish Accessible Air Transportation Advisory Committee; Solicitation of Applications and Nominations for Membership

As Published in Federal Register April 7, 2016

The Department of Transportation announces its intent to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee to negotiate and develop proposed amendments to the Department’s disability regulation on three issues: whether to require accessible inflight entertainment and strengthen accessibility requirements for other in-flight communications; whether to require an accessible lavatory on new single-aisle aircraft over a certain size; and whether to amend the definition of “service animals” that may accompany passengers with a disability on a flight. The committee will include representatives of organizations or groups with interests that are affected significantly by the subject matter of the proposed regulation.

By: Kathryn Thomson


 

April 12, 2016

DOT Memorandum - Definitions of Airline Groups

In a Federal Register notice published on April 7, 2016, the Department announced its intent to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee to examine several issues related to air travel by passengers with disabilities. In the notice the Department proposed for comment a list of committee members that would include, among others, one representative each from two large US airlines, two large foreign airlines, one regional US carrier, one low-cost US carrier, and one charter carrier. Questions have been raised as to how the Department defines some of these categories.

The use of the term "large US airlines" for purposes of this Committee refers to the US air carriers that are required by 14 CFR Part 234 to report certain consumer data to DOT (i.e., information concerning on-time performance, mishandled baggage, and oversales). In the definition of "reporting carrier," section 234.2 states that these are certificated US air carriers that each account for at least one percent of domestic scheduled-service passenger revenues. The current reporting carriers are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, ExpressJet Airlines, Frontier Airlines Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, SkyWest Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, United Airlines and Virgin America.

"Regional US air carrier" as used in the notice was a reference to US scheduled passenger airlines whose fleet consists principally ofregional aircraft, for these purposes (although not necessarily exclusively) seating from 40 to 100 passengers. Many but not all regional carriers operate codeshare service for larger airlines.

In referring to low-cost US air carriers for these purposes we adopt the definition used by the Department's Bureau of Transportation Statistics: "Low-cost airlines operate under a cost business model, with infrastructure and aircraft operating costs below the overall industry average." This release states that the six low-cost carriers as BTS uses that term are Allegiant Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and Virgin America.

By "charter carrier" we mean a US certificated air carrier whose fleet consists of aircraft larger than regional aircraft and that operates little or no scheduled service. We did not intend for this term to include reporting carriers, regional carriers, or low-cost carriers simply because these airlines offer charter service to supplement their scheduled service.

We have also been asked if these categories are mutually exclusive - e.g., if a given carrier is limited to one category. We note that two "reporting carriers" (ExpressJet and SkyWest) are also generally regarded as regional carriers, and that five of the six carriers that BTS identifies as low-cost carriers are also reporting carriers (Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and Virgin America). At this time it is not the Department's intent to have one airline be the designated representative for more than one category.

Another question that has arisen is whether accommodations should be made to include airline associations or ultra-low cost carriers as members of the Advisory Committee. As explained in the April 7 notice, the list of stakeholder categories that the Department identified as representing significantly affected interests in the proposed rule is a tentative list. "All individuals or organizations who wish to be selected to serve on the Committee should submit an application, regardless of whether their stakeholder category appears on the list. If anyone believes their interests would not be adequately represented by one or more of these categories, they should document that assertion in their comment and/or their application for membership on the Committee.''

By: Blane Workie



April 12, 2016

DOT Memorandum - Payment for Committee Member Expenses

On April 7, 2016, the US Department of Transportation published a notice of intent to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee, the Accessible Air Transportation Advisory Committee, and requested applications and nominations for membership. We have received a question regarding whether the Department will be assisting with travel expenses for individuals who are selected to be members on the committee.

Pursuant to section 568 of the Negotiated Rulemaking Act, members of a negotiated rulemaking committee are generally responsible for their own expenses of participation in the committee. However, the Department may decide to pay for a member's reasonable travel and per diem expenses, expenses to obtain technical assistance , and a reasonable rate of compensation, if certain conditions apply, in accordance with section 7(d) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Those conditions are the following: (1) such member certifies a lack of adequate financial resources to participate in the committee; and (2) the agency determines that such member's participation in the committee is necessary to ensure an adequate representation of the member's interest.

By: Blane Workie


 

April 21, 2016

Comments of National Association of the Deaf

The National Association of the Deaf nominates Zainab Alkebsi, Esquire, to serve on the Committee. She serves as Policy Counsel for the NAD and is responsible for providing analysis, recommendations, and counsel to the NAD on policy issues affecting deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind people. Her work encompasses advocacy on issues such as Video Relay Services, Internet and television captioning, accessible travel, and more.

As a deaf attorney at the NAD advocating for accessible in-flight entertainment, Ms. Alkebsi is qualified to address the issue as part of the Committee as one of the two representatives from advocacy groups representing deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

By: Howard Rosenblum



April 20, 2016

Comments of Airlines for America

We recommend that the Department reduce the size of the ACCESS Committee to the same manageable size that it was in the last passenger accommodations negotiated rulemaking in 1987. The 1987 Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, with a total of fifteen members, had better stakeholder representation and balance than the ACCESS Committee currently proposed, including six industry representatives and seven disability advocacy organizations and a Department and U.S. Access Board representative. We propose that the Department should retain the representational structure of the 1987 Committee with an equal number of representatives from disability advocacy groups and regulated entities. In addition, we agree with the Department’s notion that ACCESS Committee representatives can delegate a position or include substitute representatives during the course of the Negotiated Rulemaking, 81 Fed. Reg. 20267.

Reducing the ACCESS Committee size and retaining historical membership structure resolves several concerns with the proposed ACCESS Committee structure. For instance, the current proposed structure has several representatives that are interested parties for only one or two topics, yet as proposed it appears that the party would be able to vote on all three topics. For example, inflight entertainment product providers, manufacturers, or experts would be voting on topics concerning emotional support animals or accessible lavatories on single aisle aircraft. Specialized single issue experts should be heavily involved at the working group level that will discuss and develop recommendations to the ACCESS Committee rather than be Committee members.

In addition, the proposal would require that carriers represent a class of airlines such as “large US airlines,” “large Foreign airlines,” or “low-cost US air carrier.” However, disability groups have both focused advocacy groups, such as “advocacy groups for the blind and visually impaired” and generalized representatives that will also advocate for the same interests, such as “cross-disability advocacy groups” or “consumer groups.” The Department should eliminate from the ACCESS Committee advocacy groups that will provide redundant representation. Instead, technical experts providing unique expertise and perspectives should be included in working groups.

Specifically with respect to the proposed structure for the airline representatives, it is unlikely that charter carriers will have the expertise or vested interest in the three issues to be decided. A4A proposes that additional representatives from large airlines replace the charter airline representative slot. In particular, if no qualified representative is nominated to fill one of the airline industry slots, the Department should permit a representative from another category of airline to occupy that slot.

Counsel: A4A, Douglas Mullen, 202-626-4000



April 20, 2016

Comments of the International Air Transport Association

IATA endorses the views of Airlines for America about the size and balance of the Committee currently contemplated in the DOT notice. We believe it will be extremely difficult for a 25-member committee, the majority of whom do not represent the interests of the airlines that we are proposing to regulate, to reach consensus on proposed regulation on these issues. This negotiated rulemaking is an important undertaking for both the disability community and the airlines that are trying to best serve that community. It would be unfortunate if the chance for consensus is undermined by structural issues.

We encourage the Department to consider the options outlined by A4A in its submission in terms of Committee size and structure. We would be pleased to represent the interests of all of our foreign carriers as the international airline representative on the Committee (A4A Alternative 1). We believe it makes sense to consider more cross-functional disability groups rather than trying to capture a representative or representatives of each particular disability. While we remain concerned about the manageability of a 25-person committee, we also support the A4A Alternative 2 proposal. However, we recommend three large US and three foreign carriers (possibly two large and one medium size to best reflect all impacted foreign carriers) along with the two low-cost US carriers.

Counsel: IATA, Douglas Lavin, 202-628-9292




April 21, 2016

Comments of Allegiant Air

In Allegiant’s view, the significant distinctions between LCCs and ULCCs prevent the interests of ULCCs from being adequately represented on the Committee by the LCC stakeholder, or vice versa. While LCCs are LCCs because their infrastructure and aircraft-operating costs are below the industry average, these same costs for ULCCs are considerably farther below the average. Further, ULCCs operate primarily point-to-point service with little or no connecting traffic, and cater very heavily to leisure travelers and other highly price-sensitive passengers. Whereas JetBlue, Southwest and perhaps Virgin America may once have conformed to this business model, that is no longer the case. In the United States, the ULCC business model is restricted to Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit, and those carriers face a unique set of concerns – particularly as regards cost – when it comes to government rulemaking.

Allegiant has nominated its Vice President of Government Affairs, E. Keith Hansen, to represent ULCC interests on the Committee. Mr. Hansen is responsible for overseeing Allegiant’s compliance with DOT rules and regulations, including in particular 14 CFR Part 382. He is very familiar with the issues to be addressed in the impending rulemaking, and, if selected to the Committee, will have the full support of Allegiant in committing the necessary time and resources. In short, Mr. Hansen would make a unique and valuable contribution to the Committee in representing the interests of ULCCs.

Counsel: Garofalo Goerlich, Aaron Goerlich, 202-776-3970




April 21, 2016

Comments of National Air Carrier Association

NACA represents the lion's share of airlines that operate all or a substantial percentage of passenger charter operations . We nominate our Director of Government Affairs, Paul Doell, to represent charter carriers on this Neg-Reg committee. Mr. Doell has served in his current capacity for fifteen years and has been involved in numerous DOT disability issues during his tenure.

By: A. Oakley Brooks


 

Issued April 27, 2016 | On File at Federal Register April 29, 2016

Notice of Reg-Neg Committee Membership and Public Meeting

After a careful review of all the individuals nominated to be ACCESS Advisory Committee members, the Secretary of Transportation hereby appoints the following members:

  • Michelle Albert, Boeing Commercial Airplanes
  • Zainab Alkebsi, National Association of the Deaf
  • Mary Barnicle, United Airlines
  • Kelly Buckland, National Council on Independent Living
  • Curtis L. Decker, National Disability Rights Network
  • Parnell Diggs, National Federation of the Blind
  • Paul Doell, National Air Carrier Association
  • Geoff Freed, National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH
  • Brian Friedman, JetBlue Airways
  • Laurie A. Gawelko, Service Dog Express, LLC
  • Lise Hamlin, Hearing Loss Association of America
  • Dr. Katherine Hunter-Zaworski, Oregon State University
  • Candace Kolander, Association of Flight Attendants
  • Doug Lavin, International Air Transport Association
  • Russ Lemieux, Airline Passenger Experience Association
  • Lorne Mackenzie, WestJet Airlines
  • David Martin, Delta Air Lines
  • Orit H. Michiel, Motion Picture Association of America
  • Bradley W. Morris, Psychiatric Service Dog Partners
  • Lawrence Mullins, Lufthansa Group
  • Lee Page, Paralyzed Veterans of America
  • Deborah Lynn Price, Frontier Airlines
  • Roser Roca-Toha, Airbus
  • Alicia Smith, National Alliance on Mental Illness
  • Anthony Stevens, American Counsel of the Blind
  • Jennifer Sunderman, Regional Airline Association
  • Blane A. Workie, US Department of Transportation (Designated Federal Officer)

DOT announces that the first meeting of the ACCESS Advisory Committee will be held on May 17 and 18, 2016. The meeting is open to the public for its entirety.

By: Kristin Amerling


 

May 17-18, 2016

First Meeting of the DOT ACCESS Advisory Committee


 

Issued May 25, 2016 | On File at Federal Register May 31, 2016

Negotiated Rulemaking Committee Second Meeting

This notice announces the second meeting of the Advisory Committee on Accessible Air Transportation. The second meeting of the ACCESS Advisory Committee will be held on June 14 and 15, 2016, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time.

By: Judith Kaleta


 

June 7, 2016

Petition for Rulemaking

Neither seat width nor seat pitch is currently regulated by the FAA. We believe there is a need for the FAA to set uniform, minimum standards for seat width and seat pitch.

The FAA should establish standards for minimum seat width and minimum seat pitch on transport and commuter class aircraft. We recommend a minimum seat width of 19”, and a minimum seat pitch of 36”.

We do not believe there would be any greater cost associated with appropriately sized seats for today’s passenger as compared to the smaller seats preferred by airlines. Finally, we believe that by relieving overcrowding on board aircraft, the incidence of “air rage” can be reduced.

There is precedent for the regulation of space allotted to passengers on vessels. The concept of minimum standards for passenger comfort and convenience of passengers can be traced back to The United States Passenger Act of 1819, if not further. While these laws applied to the carriage of passengers by ship, they provide useful lessons when considering the transport of passengers by air.

By: National Association of Airline Passengers, Douglas Kidd, 703-485-1498




June 7, 2016

Comments of National Association of Airline Passengers

The subject of service animals presents the most challenging issues to the committee. We understand and appreciate the invaluable service these animals can provide to their owners. However, their presence in the passenger cabin does represent an imposition on other passengers, and on the flight crew. Commercial aircraft are not designed to accommodate either their physical presence nor their bodily needs. Increasingly full or nearly full flights have only made accommodating these animals more difficult. Moreover, not all passengers are comfortable in close proximity to these animals, and many individuals are sensitive if not allergic to their dander.

Passengers who do not need or rely on service animals have raised what we believe are legitimate concerns about the increasing presence of these animals onboard flights. The first concern is whether a particular animal is a legitimate service animal or merely a pet. The distinction between a service animal and a pet is not always clear, and in some cases appears to have been abused. The second concern is whether an animal's presence in the passenger cabin is truly necessary, or even desirable. A final concern is the recourse available to a passenger who might be uncomfortable, for any reason, in the presence or close proximity to a service animal.

We believe these problems and concerns should not be ignored; and that practical, workable solutions can be developed that will satisfy all parties. Our organization appreciates the opportunity to participate in and contribute to the rulemaking process.

By: Douglas Kidd, 703-485-1498





June 14-15, 2016

Minutes Second Meeting of the DOT ACCESS Committee

 



June 20, 2016

2nd Plenary Meeting - Draft Accessible Lavatory Performance Specification


June 20, 2016

2nd Plenary Meeting - Draft IFE Work Plan


June 20, 2016

2nd Plenary Meeting - Draft Service Animal Definition Matrix




Issued June 22, 2016 | On File at Federal Register June 24, 2016

Notice of Third Public Meeting of Advisory Committee

As Published in Federal Register June 27, 2016

The third meeting of the ACCESS Advisory Committee will be held on July 11 and 12, 2016, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time. Members of the public may submit written comments on the topics to be considered during the meeting by July 5, 2016.

At the meeting, the ACCESS Advisory Committee will continue to address whether to require accessible inflight entertainment and strengthen accessibility requirements for other inflight communications, whether to require an accessible lavatory on new single-aisle aircraft over a certain size, and whether to amend the definition of “service animals” that may accompany passengers with a disability on a flight. This meeting will include reports from the three working groups on the status of their discussions of the issues identified in previous meetings and any strawman proposals that are being developed.

By: Molly Moran


 

July 6, 2016

In-Flight Entertainment Captions at Any Altitude - PowerPoint

By: FCC




June 14, 2016

Agenda for the Second Public Meeting of Advisory Committee

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




July 6, 2016

Timeline Representing a Schedule of Implementation of In-Flight Entertainment Installations for Four Aircraft Categories

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




July 6, 2016

Draft Issue Matrix for IFE/IFC - Excel

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




July 6, 2016

Draft Issue List for IFC/IFC

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




July 6, 2016

Draft Work Plan for IFE/IFC

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




July 6, 2016

Draft Issue and Action Plan for Accessible Lavatories

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




July 6, 2016

Preliminary Draft "Accessible Lavatory" Performance Specification

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




July 6, 2016

Sample Survey of Accessible Lavatory Users

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




July 6, 2016

DOT Background Document on Emotional Service Animals

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




July 6, 2016

Draft Issue List for Service Animals

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




July 6, 2016

Approved Issue List for In-Flight Entertainment/Communications

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




July 6, 2016

Approved Issue List and Action Items for Accessible Lavatory

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




July 6, 2016

Revised Service Animal Definition Matrix

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




July 6, 2016

Approved Issue List and Work Plan for Service Animals

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




July 21, 2016

IFE/IFC - Disability Advocates' Round 1 Specifications

By: Vinh Nguyen


July 21, 2016

IFE/IFC - Timeline for 4th Meeting

By: Vinh Nguyen


July 21, 2016

Accessible Lavs - Timeline for 4th Meeting

By: Vinh Nguyen


July 21, 2016

Service Animals - Timeline for 4th Meeting

By: Vinh Nguyen


July 21, 2016

3rd Plenary Meeting - Bombardier Presentation on Accessible Lavs

By: Vinh Nguyen


July 21, 2016

3rd Plenary Meeting - Presentation on Airplane Life Cycle

By: Vinh Nguyen


July 21, 2016

3rd Plenary Meeting - FAA Presentation for Onboard Wheelchairs & Certification Process

By: Vinh Nguyen


July 21, 2016

3rd Plenary Meeting - Accessible Lavs Sample Survey

By: Vinh Nguyen


July 21, 2016

3rd Plenary Meeting - Service Animals Foreign Law Matrix

By: Vinh Nguyen


July 21, 2016

3rd Plenary Meeting - Service Animals Informal Survey - Informal Flight Attendant Survey

By: Vinh Nguyen

 

July 21, 2016

Service Animal - Advocates Proposal

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




July 29, 2016

Service Animal - Carrier Response to Advocates Proposal

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen





August 16, 2016

Draft Meeting Agenda

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen

 

August 16, 2016

Service Animal - Helping Hands Monkey Helpers Presentation

By: ACAA




August 16, 2016

Service Animal - Facilitator's Draft Issue List

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




August 16, 2016

A More Accessible IFE - Air Canada Presentation

By: Eric Lauzon




August 15, 2016

IFE/IFC - Advocate Specification

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




August 17, 2016

Accessible Lavs - Hamburg Onboard Wheelchair Presentation

By: Gordon Konieczny




August 8, 2016

Accessible Lavs - Advocate Survey Results

By: Lee Page




August 17, 2016

Accessible Lavs - Airbus Human Factors Presentation

By: Hans-Gerhard Giesa




August 17, 2016

Accessilble Lavs - OEM and Airline Position Presentation

By: OEM




August 17, 2016

Part 382 Jurisdiction

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen

 

September 21, 2016

Draft Meeting Agenda

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




September 14, 2016

IFE/IFC - Advocate Response to Industry Offer

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




September 15, 2016

IFE/IFC - Clarified Industry Offer - Clean

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




September 15, 2016

IFE/IFC - Clarified Industry Offer - With Markups

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




September 15, 2016

IFE/IFC - Timeline and Benefits of Commonality

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




September 15, 2016

IFE/IFC - Industry Challenges for Carrier-Supplied PEDs

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




September 15, 2016

IFE/IFC - Industry Challenges for WiFi Streaming

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




September 15, 2016

IFE/IFC - Advocate Revised Asked for Cabin Announcements

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




September 15, 2016

IFE/IFC - Advocate Revised Interfaces Ask

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




September 15, 2016

IFE/IFC - Text for APEX Presentation on PEDs

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




September 15, 2016

Accesible Lavs - Advocate Tier 1 Term Sheet

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




September 15, 2016

Service Animals - Advocate Position and Reasoning

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




September 15, 2016

Service Animals - Carrier Response

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen


 

September 20, 2016

Comments of Autistic Self Advocacy Network

We oppose any proposal to restrict recognition of service animals other than dogs, miniature horses, and capuchin monkeys. These restrictions have no basis in data or existing law and would cause real harm to people who cannot use animals of these species. There is no data to support the necessity of new species restrictions.

We oppose any proposal that would allow airlines to require all service animal users to fill out a questionnaire, attestation, or “decision tree” in advance of arriving at the airport. It is unlikely that such a requirement would have any significant impact on service animal fraud. Any deterrent impact of such an attestation could instead be achieved through disclaimers or warnings to all passengers regardless of disability. Moreover, there is no guarantee that such attestations will actually be easily accessible to people with cognitive or visual disabilities.

To the extent that airlines feel they must require travelers to read and acknowledge warnings about service animal fraud, we feel that this can best be accomplished by requiring all travelers to read and acknowledge those warnings. This will give airlines a natural incentive to make the warning easy to read and acknowledge, because overly burdensome or glitchy implementations will not solely “weed out” prospective travelers with service animals. This across-the-board warning will also have a greater deterrent effect on people without disabilities who may attempt to pass off a pet as a service animal.

By: Samantha Crane


 

October 4, 2016

Proposal of Hawaiian Airlines for Short Route Waiver

Hawaiian Airlines would like to request consideration of a waiver or exemption for very short airline routes of 60 minutes or less from the new accessible lavatory regulations for single aisle aircraft. Hawaiian has proposed 60 minutes as a reflection of our own operational experience wherein our flights of 60 minutes or less have only 2-8 minutes of level cruise times for safe movement within the aircraft. Please see attached Chart A. Hawaiian flies aircraft that are FAA certified for 134 passengers on these short routes and for that reason, requests DOT to consider an exemption on route timing instead of only on small aircraft size.

By: Hawaiian Airlines, Tung Chan


 

October 6, 2016

Comment of Kathryn Carlisle

I am 26 years of age. I am a disabled combat veteran. I have PTSD, TBI, and anxiety disorder, and depression and many other medically documented issues. I paid $2500 to get my dog trained specific to my needs. I don't have any seeable physical needs. Most are things mental or things that you can not see but cause me a great deal of pain.

If I went to see my primary physician and requested a letter to be able to fly with my service dog. I am certain I would just be stared at blankly.

Civilian doctors do not understand everything a combat veteran goes through. They don't understand that when I get anxious my dog notices immediately and gets my attention by licking my hand. They dont understand that my dog knows what my medication bottle looks like and can go get it when I can't move. They dont understand that when I get to my destination and I have a horrible nightmare my dog sees it and wakes me up and knows how go go turn on the light to help me.

No one understands how hard it is for some just to go out in public. Flying already is nerve wracking (PTSD can cause flashbacks with the issue of crowds, anger issues and outbursts, even full fledged anxiety/panic attack). To ask me and all my fellow service dog friends to go get a letter from our doctor and most likely opening up more information than we feel comfortable. Its difficult.

So please, I am asking you to just keep it simple for those flying with service dogs. Please don't make it harder for us to fly so we end up just canceling and missing important life functions. 

By: Kathryn Carlisle


 

October 11, 2016

ACAA 30th Anniversary Celebration

The U. S. Department of Transportation invites you to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Air Carrier Access Act with senior DOT leaders and White House officials. Guests will also have the chance to view recently completed Departmental initiatives such as new training tools for frontline airline personnel/contractors and educational reference tools for air travelers that were developed with input from disability and industry stakeholders.

Thursday, October 13, 2016 9:00 a.m. -11:00 a.m.
Hilton Arlington
950 North Stafford Street
Arlington, VA 22203

Please RSVP by noon on Wednesday, October 12th to
Kyle Ilgenfritz (kilgenfritz@linkvisum.com; 703-442-4575 extension 128).

By: Anthony Fox

 

Draft Meeting Agenda - Wednesday-Friday, October 12-14, 2016

 

August 22, 1997

National Association of the Deaf Memo

 

September 30, 2016

Action Items from IFE Subcommittee Meeting of September 21, 2016, ACCESS Meeting as Revised on 9/30 Teleconference

ACCESS: IFE/IFComs Mediator's Draft

 

October 3, 2016

Data Relevant to Benefits of Accessible Aircraft Lavatories on Narrowbody Aircraft

By: Econometrica

 

October 6, 2016

Timeframe and Challenges to Alternative IFE Accessibility via Portable Electronic Devices

 

October 9, 2016

Facilitator Draft Term Sheet - Aircraft Lavatories


 

October 6, 2016

Comments of Susan Busch

I believe more stringent regulations must be put in place to curb the abuse of passengers who claim animals as emotional support animals. Specifically, I am aware of individuals from Canada who used an online service to obtain paperwork for a faked psychiatric disorder. They then traveled to Aruba, registered feral street dogs as ESAs with the online service, and then forced the airlines to fly them for free to the U.S.. These animals were advertised as "available" in advance of their trip and were then sold after arriving in Canada. In no instance did they travel TO Aruba with an ESA. Over a six month period at least 12 different animals were claimed as ESAs. Some adult dogs were even transported in cabin, putting passenger and crew at risk.

The airlines were made aware of these activities but are generally unable to deny transport even when presented with clear and documented evidence of fraud.

It is certainly a misuse of flying ESAs when it is done simply to transport a "personal pet" when there is no real or legitimate emotional need. In this case, it is even more egregious because there is clearly NO "personal" connection with the animals, they are defrauding the airline into paying the cost to ship them, the animals are immediately being dispersed or sold, and the intent is to ensure the airline cannot deny their transport. Airlines must have the ability to deny transport of ESAs when there is clear evidence of fraud, without the fear of lawsuits.

By: Susan Busch


 


October 16, 2016

Comments of International Association of Canine Professionals Service Dog Committee

The IACP would like to see the Department of Transportation consider the following in regards to its rewrite of the ACAA regulations:

  1. Recognition of and access to all types of service dogs that provide work and/or complete tasks to mitigate any disability and meet standards of behavior in public access. The IACP supports the current exceptions of capuchin monkeys in carriers during the entire flight and miniature horses. The IACP SD Cmte. would like to see the DOT mirror the Department of Justice Code of Federal Regulations and state that no documentation should be required for the access of any persons with disabilities who utilize service dogs.
  2. Limitation of species of ESAs to dogs and cats. Dogs and cats should be in a carrier and taken out only during the flight for disability mitigation. While out of the crate, the dog or cat should be tethered to and under the control of the handler. For dogs that function as ESAs, but are unable to fit into a carrier, access should be determined by the ability of the dog to comport to the same standards of behavior as a service dog.
  3. The IACP SD Cmte. supports the airlines asking for an attestation to the behavior of the animal and being able to hold the handler accountable and liable for the behavior and actions of the animal (with the exception of behavior related to illness) on the flight.
  4. The IACP SD Cmte. would like to see a statement of required training for airline staff to recognize poor animal behavior and be required to have that animal not board and/or remove the animal from the airplane prior to flight. If the handler and animal have a connecting or returning flight and the incident occurs in the air, the airline staff would not permit that animal to board.

By: Int'l Ass'n of Canine Professionals Services Dog Committee





October 14, 2016

Accessible Lavs - Final Term Sheet

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




October 14, 2016

IFE/IFC - Facilitator Draft Term Sheet with Markups

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




October 14, 2016

Accessible Lavs - Final Vote Tally

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen

 

October 26, 2016

Service Animals - Vote Tally Sheet - Definition of Service Animal

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




October 26, 2016

Service Animals - Vote Tally Sheet - Definition of Support Animal

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




October 26, 2016

Service Animals - Vote Tally Sheet - 3rd Party Documentation, Mandatory Attestation

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




October 26, 2016

Service Animals - Vote Tally Sheet - Access for Support Dogs in Principle

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen

 

November 1, 2016

IFE/IFC - Draft In-Cabin Announcements Term Sheet

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




November 1, 2016

IFE/IFC - Draft IFE Term Sheet

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




November 1, 2016

IFE/IFC - Overview of Key Issues

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen




November 1, 2016

7th Plenary Meeting Agenda

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen

 

November 4, 2016

IFE/IFC - Draft IFE Term Sheet with In-Meeting Revisions

By: DOT, Vinh Nguyen

 

July 11-12, 2016

Minutes - Third Plenary Meeting

By: ACCESS Committee




August 16-17, 2016

Minutes - Fourth Plenary Meeting

By: ACCESS Committee




September 21-23, 2016

Minutes - Fifth Plenary Meeting

By: ACCESS Committee




October 12-14, 2016

Minutes - Sixth Plenary Meeting

By: ACCESS Committee




November 2, 2016

Minutes - Seventh Plenary Meeting

By: ACCESS Committee


 

November 24, 2016

Pre-NPRM Comments of United Service Animal Users, Supporters, and Advocates - 47 Pages

Pre-NPRM Comments of United Service Animal Users, Supporters, and Advocates - 60 Pages

The primary authors of this comment served as co-chairs among the voting members of the ACCESS Advisory Committee's service animal group. We learned much through Reg Neg collaborations with other stakeholders that we would not otherwise have known.

We adopt an overall approach of meeting the design constraints required by all stakeholders. We are convinced the regulations must balance safety, disability rights, and the practicalities of the air travel context. We aim to give each design challenge its due consideration by providing reasoned compromises, rather than fielding one side for a tug-of-war.


 

November 22, 2016

Resolution of the US DOT Access Committee

The U.S. Department of Transportation ACCESS Committee was convened to consider three issues:
1. Whether to require an accessible lavatory on new single-aisle aircraft over a certain size;
2. Whether to (a) require accessible inflight entertainment (IFE) and (b) strengthen accessibility requirements for other in-flight communications; and
3. Whether to amend the definition of “service animals” that may accompany passengers with a disability on a flight.

Annex A - Aircraft Lavatories
Annex B - Term Sheet Regarding In-Flight Entertainment
Annex C - Cabin Anouncements
Annex D - Service Animal Vote Talley Sheets


August 26, 2016

Advocate Service Animal Proposal Addendum

There are currently two advocate positions on the issue of species restrictions for service animals. The exceptional treatment for miniature horses and capuchin monkeys remains unchanged, as does that of service animals in training.

[Position SA 1: The service animal species limit remains as stated in the Advocate Proposal (dogs only), but is to be revisited by the Department of Transportation at a specific date in the future based on our understanding of the evolving role of other species as service animals.]

[Position SA 2: Service animal species would be restricted to dogs and cats. Any service animal would still be required to:

  • be trained to behave properly in public settings,
  • be trained for disability mitigation,
  • and comport to the behavior standard.]

By: Maegan Johnson




August 31, 2016

Carrier Response to Revised Service Animal Proposal

The foreign carriers do not, at this point, support the decision tree concept for the reason that it would rely on passenger generated documentation rather than third party documentation. Additionally, a domestic carrier which is a member of the Service Animal Working Group but not a voting member of the ACCESS Committee does not support the decision tree concept, for the same reason.

The foreign carriers and the domestic carrier are willing to further explore, analyze, and evaluate the decision three concept and any specific decision tree based proposal, in the interests of candor and good faith we want to apprise the disability advocates that some carriers are not, at this point, on board with the wholly passenger-generated documentation concept.

By: Maegan Johnson


 

January 31, 2018

Comments of Airlines for America

During the past several years, but in particular during the recent holidays, airlines have experienced a surge in passengers bringing animals onboard that haven't been appropriately trained as service animals. This has resulted in our crewmembers and passengers being bitten and subjected to other offensive and injurious behavior. Our air carriers are responsible for the safety of our passengers and crew and make it our top priority. We need to ensure that airplane aisles and exits are clear in case of the need for an emergency evacuation, prevent exposure to dangerous animals that may injure other passengers, crew, or other animals or otherwise jeopardize the health and safety of everyone. It's also incumbent on us to act in a manner ensuring that the rights of passengers with legitimate psychiatric or physical needs to fly with their trained service animals are not impinged by others who may be abusing the current rules.

A4A has worked closely with passengers with disabilities in an attempt to find consensus on these important issues. We negotiated for six months in 2016 as part of DOT's negotiated rulemaking on issues important to the disabled and were successful on several key issues, but not the service animal issues. We met with DOT staff in April 2017 to reiterate our concerns and possible solutions and have continued to use the Disabled Passenger Working Group to collaborate on service animal and other disability issues. We are committed to finding solutions.

DOT has an opportunity to revise service animal guidance that strikes the right balance between ensuring passengers with a disability are accommodated in air travel and protecting the health and safety of all passengers and crew, and we urge DOT to act expeditiously. Given the serious nature of recent animal service related incidents, we expect carriers will be taking the appropriate steps to ensure the safety and health of our passengers and crew. Revised guidance from DOT is an important part of the process of addressing these issues to ensure the traveling public and our crew understand these policies.

By: Sharon Pinkerton




February 6, 2018

Comments of American Association of People with Disabilities, et al.

The undersigned organizations write to express our concern with the revised service animal policies announced by Delta Air Lines on January 19 and United Airlines on February 1. We believe that these policies, which are slated to go into effect on March 1, are inconsistent with the Department of Transportation's regulations implementing the Air Carrier Access Act and the Department's "Guidance Concerning Service. Animals in Air Transportation," [68 Fed. Reg. 24,874 (May 9, 2003)]. Consequently, the Department must deem these revised policies to be in violation of the ACAA and advise Delta and United accordingly.

Delta's revised service animal policy includes several key requirements that will impact all passengers with disabilities who use service animals. First, Delta's revised policy requires all service animal users to submit a completed "Veterinary Health Form"1 48 hours prior to travel. Second, Delta's revised policy requires all psychiatric service animal and emotional support animal users to submit, in addition, a completed "Confirmation of Animal Training" form 48 hours prior to travel. On this form, the user of a psychiatric service animal or emotional support animal must confirm that the animal has been trained to behave in public and affirm that inappropriate behavior will lead to denied boarding of the animal or its removal from the aircraft. United's revised policy would also require emotional support animal users to provide confirmation of training and a health certificate, to include an affirmation from a veterinarian "that there is no reason to believe that the animal will pose a direct threat to the health and safety of others on the aircraft or cause a significant disruption in service," 48 hours prior to travel.

Delta's and United's revised service animal policies contradict the Department's regulations and guidance. First, Delta's and United's revised policies requiring health and vaccine verification go beyond the limits set by the Department on the documentation that carriers may demand of passengers travelling with service animals. Second, Delta's and United's revised policies requiring affirmation of behavioral training go beyond the Department's limits on information that may be requested by a carrier. Lastly, Delta's policy also violates the Department's guidance regarding the requirement to evaluate certain types of animals on a "case-by-case basis." Specifically, Delta's list of animals not permitted include animals with hooves.

According to the Department's Semi-Annual Regulatory Agenda, the Department will move forward with an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in July. As disability rights organizations, we expect that any proposed regulation will permit passengers with disabilities who use trained service animals to travel with those animals without encountering barriers to access. This includes advance documentation requirements related to training, health, and, in the case of psychiatric service animals, third-party documentation regarding need. We also support continued access for emotional support animals. Both trained service animals and emotional support animals must be trained to behave appropriately. Furthermore, air carriers and their contractors must be required to train their employees in how to interact with people with disabilities who use these animals and how to observe animal behavior at the airport and in the passenger cabin.

In the meantime, the Department must stop the proliferation of patch work service animal access requirements, and hold carriers to current service animal regulations and guidelines. Otherwise, the ACAA's protections for service animals may become meaningless.

Counsel: Paralyzed Veterans of Americans, Heather Ansley, 202-416-7794

 


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