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Airports must listen to disabled travellers

Posted Jul 29 2009 11:29pm

Leonard Cheshire Disability says many airports do not meet the needs of disabled passengers one year on, despite EU law.

Since the release of the Leonard Cheshire Disability Now Boarding Survey in 2007 the charity has found disabled travellers are still being discriminated against because of a lack of training for air travel staff on how to provide an accessible service.

The law makes it the responsibility of the airport, previously it was down to the individual airlines, to provide assistance to disabled travellers from arrival at the airport to check in, through departure and boarding.

Katie Turner, Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Senior Campaigns Officer for National campaigns, said: “The air travel industry must engage directly with their disabled customers in order to ensure they meet their needs. Airport’s must ensure that all staff are properly trained and equipped to work with disabled passengers and take the time to listen to and understand their assistance needs.”

Amar Latif is the founder and director of Traveleyes, the first commercial tour operator to specialise in holidays for visually impaired and sighted UK-based travellers.

He said: “There are more than 10 million disabled people in the UK and many more with mobility difficulties. We are a group of people whose needs simply cannot be ignored. It is known that around two and a half million of those travel on a regular basis.

“I believe that a more positive approach by airports is needed to overcome the fear, prejudice and misconception disabled passengers face. The industry has to listen and engage with disabled travellers and learn from their experiences in order to comply with the law and make our journeys more pleasurable.”

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