WASHINGTON, Feb. 22, 2018 – The American Council of the Blind commends Delta Airlines for re-examining its recent policy on service animals, relaxing constraints that negatively impacted travelers with guide dogs. The revised policy announced today makes changes to a policy released earlier this year that was intended to reduce the number of fraudulent service and emotional support animals that have disrupted travel and, in some cases, caused injury to passengers.
“ACB is pleased to learn that Delta listened to the concerns ACB and our members raised following the release of their January 18th change in policy,” said Eric Bridges, ACB’s executive director. “The new policy provides a much more workable solution that still allows for the freedom of travel by passengers using guide dogs.”
Since its inception, ACB has advocated tirelessly for equal access by individuals who rely on the use of a guide dog. ACB played an active role in the passage of the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Both laws have established the fundamental right to access in places of public accommodation and across multiple transportation networks, including all commercial airlines.
“We look forward to working with Delta and other airlines to assure that the skies remain accessible for all travelers, especially those who experience the freedom that comes through traveling with a guide dog,” said Anthony Stephens, ACB’s director of advocacy and governmental affairs. A guide dog user, Stephens was actively involved in the 2016 Department of Transportation negotiations tasked with finding a solution to the rise in service animal fraud.
The initial policy change, released January 18th, would have created multiple barriers to free and independent access to air travel by consumers with guide dogs. Passengers with service and emotional support animals would have been required to provide prior notice, and upload relevant documents affirming the dog’s training and vaccination records. The revised guidelines relax many of these policies for individuals with legitimately trained service animals, which have already undergone great scrutiny and training before being released in the community with their handlers. Passengers traveling with trained service animals will still be required to have their dogs vaccinated and be able to provide proof of vaccination should issues or injury arise as a result of the animal.
ACB recognizes Delta’s desire to assure that in the rare case of injury, the appropriate documentation can be made available. We thank Delta for listening to its customers and redrafting a policy that does not discriminate against travelers who rely on their service dogs to be independent.
The American Council of the Blind is a national membership organization whose purpose is to work toward independence, security, equality of opportunity, and improved quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people. Founded in 1961, ACB’s members work through more than 70 state and special-interest affiliates to improve the well-being of all blind and visually impaired people.
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