Airports and intellectual disabilites

By | Category: Travel news
cartoon of passenger rushing to catch a flight

Spotting a traveller with intellectual disabilities will require training as they may look like any other passenger © Dan Sperrin

Making air travel more accessible for passengers with hidden disabilities  is the name given to an advice document which the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has sent to all UK airports.

The fifteen-page document builds on a ten-year old EU regulation saying that the rights of the disabled and those with reduced mobility should be the same as those of non-disabled people. Following research the CAA has decided that these rights should be applied to those with, what it calls, “intellectual disability or impairment.” It defines these as dementia, autism, learning disabilities, mental health conditions, visual impairment and hearing loss.

It requires airports to set quality standards, (why didn’t it impose one for them to follow?) monitor and report on them.

It requires that there be training for airport staff so that they are able to spot and assist such people and their travelling companions but this isn’t easy. The problem with in intellectual disability is that it is not necessarily noticeable to others so training is vital. Disability groups will assist in this training and, until this training is complete, airport assistance may be patchy.

For the airports the problem becomes whether the people they have on shift are trained to cope with the disabilities they might face on any given day. Can they, for example, ask for 24 hours- notice of any departing or arriving passenger so that staff are in place?

The advice does cover this in suggesting that there is no mandatory requirement to provide a trained person for each particular disability if notice is not given but just that airports should provide as much assistance as possible.

If airports started training today, it would still take time to bring staff up to speed. Travellers should remain patient whilst this happens but there may be another way.

It seems to me that one way for airports to become aware of passengers so affected would be to sub-contract staff from those interested charities and employ them to provide assistance when and where needed. This could be for just the period when staff are being trained or it could be the way the airport industry regularly operates this assistance.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Tags: , , ,