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

Len Burns len at gatamundo.com
Tue Jun 9 02:24:14 UTC 2009


More of the usual ablist discrimination.  The guy sounds very competent. 
  If he chooses to travel alone, they have no place interfering with his 
well thought through decision.  I hope to heck he wins.  If he does not 
the precedent will be a bad one.

-L

Serena wrote:
> I absolutely agree with you!  I have a friend who's deaf-blind.  Once he 
> gets older and is able to travel independently, I would never want him 
> to be denied the right to travel alone if he thinks he's able to do so!  
> Many deaf-blind people do use assistants they call "SSPs" (support 
> service providers) to assist them when necessary and, if hearing, 
> interpret for them.  If the client in the case feels he doesn't need an 
> SSP, he certainly should be allowed to travel without one.
> 
> Serena
> 
> 
> ----- 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 3:12 PM
> Subject: [nabs-l] Air Canada challenges deaf, blind man's right to 
> travel alone; 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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