Airport Wheelchair

In a bid to improve the air travel experience for passengers with disabilities, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently held its inaugural Global Accessibility Symposium.

The event, hosted by Emirates in Dubai saw guests from airlines, regulators and accessibility advocacy groups across the world come together to address a wide variety of accessibility and inclusion topics.

A first for the airline sector, the Symposium follows an industry resolution agreed upon by IATA member airlines in June 2019, committing to enhancing the passenger experience for travellers with visible and invisible disabilities.

Advertisement | Continue story below

“This event showed that collaboration and feedback are crucial,” commented Linda Ristagno, External Affairs Manager at IATA.

“Through this gathering and other initiatives, airlines are seeking to establish a better dialogue between industry, advocacy groups and passengers themselves. While the industry has had standards for persons travelling with disabilities for some time, we realise there are still gaps and we need to do more.”

The event featured keynotes and panel discussions discussed issues and solutions relating to accessibility, with speakers from airlines including British Airways, Delta Air Lines, Emirates and WestJet.

In addition, various UK advocacy groups, regulatory bodies and organisations, including the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People and Heathrow Airport, addressed the importance of inclusivity.

Recently, an accessibility report by the CAA revealed the number of disabled passengers travelling through UK airports reached a record high between April 2018 and March 2019 as more people with disabilities took to the skies.

Despite the increasing number of disabled passengers however, air travel still proves to be a worrying experience for many, with multiple reports of damaged mobility aids, lack of disability understanding of support staff and other problems arising on a highly frequent basis.

Aiming to reduce these incidences, the Symposium raised a number of key issues, including the need for a consistent global policy consistency on accessibility, better understanding of hidden disabilities, as well as better processes for handling mobility aids to bring down the damage rate.

“It is a step in the right direction, but the work isn’t done. We will continue to facilitate the discussion and refine the industry strategy from here,” continued Linda.

“However, we need governments to help by developing harmonised regulations, in consultation with industry and accessibility groups, that provide clarity and global consistency. Working together will help ensure a safe, reliable and dignified experience that we owe to these passengers.”

In addition, the event highlighted the requirement for disability training for passenger-facing roles and a more consistent approach to security policies across airports for disabled passengers.

According to the IATA, the findings and results from the event will be used to build upon its existing accessibility strategy, while continuing the dialogue with passengers, airports and governments.

THIIS UPDATES
Over 2,200 mobility professionals stay informed about the latest industry news & jobs with THIIS. Do you?
We respect your privacy
https://i0.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/airport-wheelchair.jpg?fit=1000%2C667&ssl=1https://i0.wp.com/thiis.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/airport-wheelchair.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Calvin BarnettGovernment & LegislationNewsroomSector Newsair travel,aviation,British Airways,Civil Aviation Authority,Delta Air Lines,disabled passengers,Emirates,Global Accessibility Symposium,Heathrow Airport,IATA,International Air Transport Association,Queen Elizabeth's Foundation for Disabled People,UK CAAIn a bid to improve the air travel experience for passengers with disabilities, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently held its inaugural Global Accessibility Symposium. The event, hosted by Emirates in Dubai saw guests from airlines, regulators and accessibility advocacy groups across the world come together to address a...News, views & products for mobility, access and independent living professionals