[nabs-l] Air Canada challenges deaf, blind man's right to travel alone; Burnaby

Sarah Alawami marrie12 at gmail.com
Mon Jun 8 19:12:30 UTC 2009

What do you all think of this? I think  personally that he has the  right to
choose weather he can travel unassisted. The article is below. If I  already
sent this, my apoligies for the duplicate.

  Air Canada challenges deaf, blind man's right to travel alone; Burnaby
  athlete says he is capable
  Janice Tibbetts
  Vancouver Sun, Apr. 7, 2009
  In a case that balances passenger safety and the rights of the disabled, 
  Canada is challenging a deaf and blind man's contention that he should be
  allowed to fly without an attendant.
  The airline will argue in Federal Court that not allowing Burnaby resident
  Eddy Morten to fly alone is justified discrimination.
  Morten counters that he has a system for safe air travel with his service
  dog, he has been self-sufficient all his life, and that he has made many
  past trips on planes, trains and buses.
  "I have never needed a babysitter," Morten, a father of two and a 
  bronze medallist in judo, wrote in an e-mail.
  "Air Canada routinely allows people who are blind, people who cannot walk
  and people who may be very disabled due to aging to travel unattended. Why
  not me?"
  Air Canada is fighting Morten in court after losing a Canadian Human 
  Tribunal decision in January.
  The tribunal did not order the airline to allow Morten to travel alone, 
  said he had the right to be assessed for self-reliance rather than
  automatically ordered to bring an attendant.
  The tribunal, ruling that Air Canada had not met its obligation to
  accommodate Morten to the point of "undue hardship," ordered the airline 
  pay Morten $10,000 in damages. Air Canada is not contesting the award.
  "It's the principle we're concerned about," said the airline's spokesman
  Peter Fitzpatrick. "It comes down to the safety of the disabled passenger
  and other passengers on the aircraft." Fitzpatrick cited the recent rescue
  of US Airways passengers in the Hudson River as an example of a successful
  and quick evacuation.
  The dispute between Air Canada and Morten began five years ago, when he
  unsuccessfully tried to book a flight from Vancouver to San Francisco
  without being accompanied by an assistant.
  He says he was "disempowered" by the rebuff and that he should not have to
  shoulder the cost of hiring an attendant. While Air Canada policy has
  recently changed to permit attendants to travel for free domestically, the
  concession does not apply to international travel.
  The vice-president of the Alliance of Equality for Blind Canadians said
  Monday that financially strapped Air Canada should be spending its limited
  resources more wisely than on fighting a disabled man who wants to travel
  "There should be no blanket exclusions," said John Rae, who believes that 
  person's declaration they are self-reliant should be enough. Barring that,
  each case should be individually assessed, particularly since there are
  varying degrees of impairment, he said.
  Morten, who was born deaf but with good vision, has Usher's Syndrome, a
  condition that caused him to gradually lose his sight. Now in his late 
  he is completely blind in his left eye and has severely limited vision in
  his right eye.
  Morten testified before the tribunal that he knows airline safety 
  and would be able to find the emergency exits by following the lights 
  the aisle. He also travels with pre-printed file cards containing such
  phrases as "I am deaf/blind, to talk to me, please write on my palm in 
  block letters."
  He also says that he could see an oxygen mask if it fell in front of him,
  and knows how to use a life vest if necessary.
  The airline will also argue in court that the human rights tribunal
  overstepped its jurisdiction when it ruled on the case.
  Air Canada said the proper body to decide is the Canadian Transportation
  Agency, which ruled in 2005 that the airline was justified in 
  against Morten.

Sarah Alawami
msn: chellist at hotmail.com
website: http://www.marrie.org
twitter: http://twitter.com/marrie1

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