Reduced Mobility Rights, the only website solely focused on disabled passengers’ news, celebrates its first anniversary.
It was September 7th 2011 when the first article was published on this web site. Traveling with Disabled Children: The Dignity Factor. The article highlights recurring challenges for parents traveling with disabled children and teens. Just this week we have been covering the story of Bede Vanderhorst, a teenager with Down syndrome who was denied boarding an American Airlines flight.
Traveling by air is still perceived as a hurdle by many disabled people. A recently published study discovered that only one in six passengers with reduced mobility is aware of his rights when traveling by air.
This extraordinary lack of knowledge shows how much work waits in front of us. We have to help disabled people move past perception into real understanding of what flying with a disability requires, which are the services available to them at every step of the journey, what are their rights, and how to defend themselves against those who do not deliver.
Reduced Mobility Rights is fighting a battle to establish the United Kingdom, last among all European countries, adopts a system of effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalties applicable to infringements of Regulation 1107/2006, the law concerning the rights of disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility when travelling by air.
On our side, we have a powerful ally, the EU Transport Commissioner, Mr Siim Kallas. "The Department for Transport is currently in discussion with the CAA and is considering complementing those criminal penalties with appropriate civil sanctions. The [EU] Commission is closely following this issue and is, like you, of the opinion that this is highly advisable in order to have full respect of the Regulation," Mr Kallas told Reduced Mobility Rights few months ago.
On the opposite side, we have a Government that seemingly does not see protecting the rights of disabled passengers as a priority, which is ironic considering PM David Cameron's personal experience with disability. The Department for Transport remains deaf, despite the countless calls to ensure the United Kingdom does what the rest of Europe did four years ago.
Reporting on PRM (Passengers with Reduced Mobility) news is just the tip of the iceberg of our day to day business.
Reduced Mobility Rights regularly publishes reviews about accessibility and disabled services of airports across Europe and the world. We provide tailor-made support on a daily basis to disabled passengers who approach Reduced Mobility Rights requesting information ahead of their trips. We take pride is assisting disabled passengers who have been failed by airports or airlines, and need help and advice to file complaints.
In this first year we have achieved much, yet we still believe we've just scratched the surface of the wider problem called indifference. While we can rightfully say we have directly contributed to improve PRM handling procedures of a leading European airline, we are still witnessing cases in which air carries just forget disabled passengers at airports.
We have done a lot, yet we have much more to accomplish. I would like to thank all our friends and followers for the immense support provided this first year. I'd also like to thank our critics and haters. Their feelings prove we are making a difference. Finally, I'd like to thank all disabled people traveling by air. Thank you for not giving up on your right to travel. We are, and will be, by your side when needed.