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

sarah.jevnikar at utoronto.ca sarah.jevnikar at utoronto.ca
Tue Jun 9 15:00:06 UTC 2009




If he had known problems travelling alone that would be one thing, but  
he sounds pretty competent. So I agree with Sarina and have no idea  
what Air Canada thinks it's doing. If only West Jet flew to more  
places; I've heard good things about them and accessibility. I hope  
this gets worked out soon.

Sarah


Quoting Serena <serenacucco at verizon.net>:

> 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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