Proposed regulations by the United States Department of Transportation would require the blind and others who rely on large “service animals” to deplane or ship their companions in the cargo hold! All who care about the blind and others with disabilities MUST act immediately to stop this threat by having the proposed regulatory language changed to allow alternatives that will reasonably accomodate people with disabilities.

What can you do now? Read the Emergency Call to Action sponsored by the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners and submit a comment to the Department of Transportation insisting that the language of the new regulations require the airline industry to reasonably accomodate blind guide dog owners by taking actions such as making voluntary arrangements or moving passengers instead of harming the blind by forcing us off the plane or separating us from our dogs. Everyone who sincerely cares about the blind will take this action immediately!

The following are the public comments I submitted to the Department of Transportation’s Docket Clerk:

February 16, 2005

Docket Clerk

Department of Transportation

400 7th Street, SW., Room PL-401

Washington, DC 20590.

DOCKET NUMBER: OST-2004-19482-1

Dear Docket Clerk,

I am a highly accomplished blind information technology professional, accessibility advocate and publisher of the Blind Access Journal. My girlfriend is a blind professional in the resort hospitality industry who also happens to rely on a guide dog to meet her independent travel needs. We both travel on airlines for business and pleasure from time to time.

I am deeply troubled by dangerous language in the NPRM relating to large service animals that might not fit in front of the passenger’s seat or even in the bulkhead area. Persons with disabilities who rely on such “large” animals cannot rightly be expected to allow their companion to be placed in the aircraft’s cargo hold or be forced to wait for a later flight where the same situation might exist. Since we pay our hard earned money to travel just like everyone else, these undue regulations represent a reduction in the service levels we receive in comparison to customers without disabilities. They would also simply represent an ethical, moral and, perhaps, legal violation of our rights as fully living and breathing human beings and citizens of the United States of America, with all the rights and responsibilities that first class status entails. In a case where a guide dog does not fit in the typical spaces, alternatives must be considered that do not result in undue harm to the disabled person or their service animal. Alternatives might include moving either the person with a disability or a nondisabled person sitting in the adjacent seat to accomodate the service animal, even if that entails moving the passenger to seating in a different part of the cabin such as business or first class. Denial of service to a person with a disability is never appropriate under any circumstances.


Darrell Shandrow
Blind Access Journal: