ACB Condemns Discrimination by Airlines

For Immediate Release
 
Contact: Eric Bridges
Director of External Affairs and Policy
American Council of the Blind
Phone: (202) 467-5081
E-mail: ebridges@acb.org
 
ACB Condemns Discrimination by Airlines Against People Who Use Guide Dogs, Urges Better Training of Personnel Who Interact with Passengers with Disabilities
 
Arlington, VA, December 30, 2013 - Albert Rizzi, a guide dog user, was ejected from a U.S. Airways flight on November 13, 2013 because he was not able to put his guide dog far enough under the seat of the person sitting next to him, which did not please the flight attendant. Mr. Rizzi had been assigned a seat at the rear of the small plane, in the center of the bench seat, with no passenger seat in front of him since that was the aisle itself.
 
The American Council of the Blind (ACB) issued the following statement:
 
The Air Carrier Access Act grants people who use guide dogs, and other trained service dogs, the right to full access to air travel, accompanied in the cabin by their dog.  It is the responsibility of each airline that does business in the United States to insure that personnel both understand and respect the rights of passengers who use guide dogs. ACB calls on U.S. Airways, and all other airlines to guarantee that appropriate policies regarding the access rights of people with disabilities travelling with guide dogs are put in place immediately, and that airline personnel who interact with passengers before, during, and after travel, receive appropriate training regarding the treatment of guide dogs and their handlers during all phases of travel.
 
ACB President, Kim Charlson, notes that “Given the number of years that our access laws have been in place, there is no excuse for airline personnel to engage in practices that demean or discriminate against passengers who travel with guide dogs.  Such conduct is unacceptable, and we call on all airlines to take the necessary steps to insure that incidents such as Mr. Rizzi experienced do not happen to others.” 
 
Charlson further stated that "ACB is standing firm and showing its solidarity with Mr. Rizzi in his efforts to address this particular situation. We take this issue very seriously, and airlines should do likewise.  Nothing less is acceptable.”
 
About the American Council of the Blind 
The American Council of the Blind is the nation's leading consumer-based organization of blind and visually impaired Americans advocating for the rights of blind Americans. Comprised of more than 70 affiliates across the United States, the organization is dedicated to making it possible for blind and visually impaired Americans to participate fully in all aspects of American society.  For more information, visit www.acb.org; write to American Council of the Blind, 2200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 650, Arlington, VA 22201; phone (202) 467-5081; or fax (703) 465-5085.