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