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

Kevin Wassmer commanderlumpy2003 at earthlink.net
Mon Jun 8 23:12:52 UTC 2009

This is absolutely ridiculous. The things that bauther me about this is 
number 1, this could happen in the U.S. number 2, I have traveled in Canada 
alone without assistance and they didn't have a problem with it. Now when I 
came back home from Canada, I did have an assistant traveling with me. But 
that was at the discression of the mission president not the airlines. Still 
however, this bauthers the hell out of me.


Cause its been 18 days
Since I first held you
But to me it feels just like
It feels like a lifetime
I'm trying hard to re-arrange
Some say its the hardest thing to do
But that's another 18 days
Without you..
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Sarah Alawami" <marrie12 at gmail.com>
To: "'National Association of Blind Students mailing list'" 
<nabs-l at nfbnet.org>
Sent: Monday, June 08, 2009 1:12 PM
Subject: [nabs-l] Air Canada challenges deaf, blind man's right to 
travelalone; Burnaby

> 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,
>  Air
>  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
>  Paralympic
>  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
>  Rights
>  Tribunal decision in January.
>  The tribunal did not order the airline to allow Morten to travel alone,
>  but
>  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
>  to
>  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
>  independently.
>  "There should be no blanket exclusions," said John Rae, who believes that
>  a
>  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
>  40s,
>  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
>  procedures
>  and would be able to find the emergency exits by following the lights
>  along
>  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
>  large
>  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
>  discriminating
>  against Morten.
> Sarah Alawami
> msn: chellist at hotmail.com
> website: http://www.marrie.org
> twitter: http://twitter.com/marrie1
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