Paralyzed Veterans of America Successfully Petition for Rulemaking 

Washington, D.C. – People with mobility impairments would be offered safer and more dignified access to travel on airlines if new rules that were requested by Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA)  and which were recently proposed by the Department of Transportation take effect. 

The proposed rules were published by the Department of Transportation this week, initiating a federal rulemaking process requested through a petition for rulemaking Democracy Forward filed with the Department in 2022 on behalf of Paralyzed Veterans of America. 

“This is an incredibly encouraging start to this rulemaking process and we sincerely hope this ends up in strong and enforceable protections for people with mobility impairments when they fly on commercial airlines,” said Skye Perryman, President and CEO of Democracy Forward. “Paralyzed Veterans of America deserves thanks for their exceptional work in achieving this progress and Democracy Forward is very proud to work with them to fight for safe accommodations for air travelers who rely on mobility devices.” 

Many of PVA’s members have experienced difficulties during the boarding and deplaning process. For example as described in PVA’s petition, in January 2019, a PVA member was improperly transferred from his personal wheelchair into an aisle chair by an inadequately trained airline employee. The employee dropped the member and fractured his tailbone, leading to a life-threatening infection that hospitalized him for months. After leaving the hospital, the member tried to take action against the airline, but was told that he had waited too long to file his complaint.

In another tragic recent example, disability rights activist Engracia Figueroa’s power wheelchair was destroyed during a flight, forcing her to spend weeks in a loaner chair, which reportedly caused a fatal pressure sore.

The publication of the rule initiates a comment process and members of the public and interested parties must submit comments before May 13, 2024. The proposal can be found in full and comments can be submitted HERE.

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