The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has issued one last rule according to the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) on Wednesday, which will make airplane lavatories more accessible for disabled travelers.
The new regulation requires new bathrooms on single-aisle aircraft with at least 125 seats to have larger, wheelchair-accessible bathrooms with accessible features such as grab bars and accessible faucets, controls, call buttons and door locks.
“We are proud to announce this rule that makes aircraft lavatories larger and more accessible and ensures that wheelchair travelers enjoy the same access and dignity as the rest of the traveling public,” said US Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg in a statement opinion On Wednesday.
According to this, barrier-free toilets have been available in the double-aisle aircraft for decades The New York Times. However, on single-aisle aircraft, which are typically used for longer flights, there is no obligation to provide accessible toilets.
Most lavatories on single-aisle aircraft are too small to accommodate wheelchairs or attendants onboard and lack the accessibility features needed to assist passengers with physical, visual or other disabilities, the DOT wrote in the final rule adding that airlines would be more likely to forego accessible toilets from extra rows of seats.
Because of this barrier, according to a, many disabled people choose not to fly unless absolutely necessary Opinion poll conducted by disability groups.
“It is an unfortunate reality that many disabled air travelers today, knowing they cannot use the lavatory on a flight, become dehydrated or even maintain bodily functions such that they do not need to urinate. “These measures can have adverse health effects, including an increased risk of urinary tract infections,” according to the DOT wrote in the final rule.
The rule came into effect on the 33rd anniversary of the landmark passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and a year after the Department of Transportation published the first law Fundamental rights for disabled air passengers. People with disabilities have spoken out about problems when travelling, such as the alarming number of wheelchairs being abused and damaged by airlines.
Efforts to improve the accessibility of air travel
The Department of Transportation’s decision comes as a result of years of efforts to address airline inaccessibility issues.
The Airline Access ActThe law, enacted in 1986 and amended in 2000, prohibits US and foreign airlines from discriminating against persons with disabilities.
In 2016, the Department established the Air Transport Accessibility Advisory Committee, made up of disability rights activists, airline manufacturers, airlines and flight attendants, to develop regulations on accessibility issues to ensure non-discriminatory services are provided to disabled people.
This year, the committee developed recommendations for new regulatory proposals to improve the accessibility of lavatories on single-aisle aircraft. In 2020, the DOT issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for short-term improvements that included changes to bathroom interiors, additional training and informational processes related to bathroom accessibility, and improvements to the aircraft’s onboard wheelchairs.
Last year the DOT an NPRM issued for long-term improvements that require airlines to fit larger bathrooms on certain single-aisle aircraft that allow wheelchair transport of a disabled passenger on board to and from the lavatory, with or without assistance.
Wednesday’s final ruling summarizes and addresses the issues outlined in the long-term and short-term NPRMs of recent years. The rule is one of several other efforts by the DOT to make travel easier and more accessible for disabled passengers, including a bipartisan infrastructure law which will modernize the airport terminals.
These bathroom accessibility provisions are expected to be included on new aircraft delivered within three years of the rule’s entry into force. The bathroom size expansion is expected to take effect for new aircraft ordered in 10 years or delivered in 12 years – still a timeline faster than the original one was created in 2016.
“[Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg] “We’ve kicked the ball around years in accessibility of air travel,” said Vincenzo Piscopo, president and CEO of the United Spinal Association, in one opinion. “While we still have a lot to do, this is amazing progress.”