Holiday traveling is hard for everyone, but it can be particularly treacherous for people with disabilities. I know that with my multiple sclerosis, I must be continually looking forward (to avoid being knocked over) and down (to keep from tripping on piece of gum or a sidewalk crack).
Nevertheless, I (and so many others I know) am determined to make it home for the holidays. And it’s good to know that some of the laws support us in our “journeys.”
For example, federal laws require that most public buses accommodate people with disabilities. This means that newly-constructed buses have to be equipped with a lift and designated seating for people with disabilities. Bus operators must also be trained on effective communication with passengers with disabilities. In addition, if a person with a disability needs to go somewhere that is not along the bus’s normal route, the rider can arrange to be picked up and transported to his/her destination.
In addition, taxis and similar private transportation vehicles cannot refuse access to an individual with disabilities, and must assist them in boarding and deboarding.
As with most areas of disability law, these specific obligations cease if they would become an “undue burden” for the company or agency providing the transportation. But this kind of burden must be based on objective facts and not unsubstantiated fears or stereotypes. And even then, the agency or company would still need to assist the traveler up to the point where this burden would set in. (Example: the agency or company would not have to provide “lifts” at every door, but the driver must be prepared to physically assist people with disabilities in entering and exiting the bus.)
For more information, see the links below. Have a happy (and accessible) holiday season!