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Govt releases new guidelines for air travel of differently-abled passengers

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Coaches and vehicles that are used to transport the passengers towards the airplane must also be made compatible with the wheel-chair bound passengers, the guidelines state.

In an attempt to make air travel journeys more accessible and comfortable for differently-abled people, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has issued a list of draft accessibility standards and guidelines. The guidelines are of particular salience for the airlines and airport operators as it provides guidelines to the airlines and operators to follow to ensure comfortable air travel for the differently abled, the Indian Express reported. The Ministry has also sought feedback from public, differently- abled activist groups and other stakeholders on the proposed guidelines. The feedback and suggestions to the proposed guidelines and standards are to be submitted within a period of three weeks.

What triggered the Civil Aviation Ministry to issue these guidelines
The most immediate reason behind the Ministry releasing the draft guidelines on the issue, is an appeal by actor and dancer Sudha Chandran who posted a video on social media narrating the difficulties she felt at the airport. Requesting PM Narendra Modi to issue separate identity cards to differently-abled people to enable easy security check, Chandran said that she is asked to remove her prosthetic limb every time she is travelling. Requesting the central as well as the state governments to take note of the ‘grilling’ differently-abled people have to undergo at the security check, Chandran wondered if the treatment meted out to her by authorities was respectful.



Taking note of the celebrity’s post on social media, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) which manages the security at the airports across the country issued an apology. The CISF also promised to look into the matter to enquire why the lady CISF personnel asked Chandran to remove her prosthetic limb.



Provisions of the Ministry of Civil Aviation guidelines
The guidelines direct the airlines and airport operators to make special arrangements to ensure that the dignity and privacy of the passenger is not violated during screening and other security checks. The guidelines add that X-ray, explosive trace detection devices or visual checks can be used to screen the prosthetics. The guidelines mention that a differently-abled person who has a prosthetic limb be taken to a separate space and made to sit comfortably and screened as per the issued guidelines. The guidelines clearly say that the prosthetic appliances which do not have any foam padding cover under which weapons or explosives can be concealed may be screened by visual inspection and ETD only. There is no need to remove the prosthetic appliance in such a scenario, the guidelines conclude. In other words, depending on the nature and design of the prosthetic limb passengers will be screened in different ways.

Keeping the security concerns in mind, the guidelines state that only in the rare circumstances, when the officer concerned believes that a thorough and fool-proof security check is not possible, will the passenger be asked to remove the prosthetic limb. Officers in such cases will also have to note their observation as to what made them ask the passenger to remove the limb.

Other guidelines
In addition to the passengers having artificial limbs, the guidelines extend to other differently-abled passengers as well including those who have an external aid like hearing aid, cochlear implants, bone growth stimulators and ostomies among others. Such passengers will have to disconnect these devices before the X-ray screening. To the maximum extent possible, the passengers will be asked to conduct a self-pat-down of these devices followed by the ETD scan of their hands. Passengers wanting a wheelchair will be provided a wheelchair at the baggage make-up area with a service partner to avoid any inconvenience. Coaches and vehicles that are used to transport the passengers towards the airplane must also be made compatible with the wheel-chair bound passengers, the guidelines state.





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