Congressional Committee Approves Legislation to Improve Air Travel for People with SMA and other Disabilities

This week, a key committee in the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved (63-0) aviation legislation that will make air travel more accessible for individuals with SMA and other disabilities. Accessible air travel is a top priority for Cure SMA and the SMA community, which were recognized by the U.S. House committee for their advocacy and support of the legislation.  

The disability-related provisions in the legislation include: 

  • Training for airline personnel who assist passengers with wheelchairs, including the handling and stowage of their wheelchairs.
  • Technical and economic feasibility studies on accommodating passengers in wheelchairs in the main cabin.
  • Publication of cargo hold dimensions and additional data related to wheelchair damage and other disability air travel complaints.
  • New standards to improve the accessibility of existing aircrafts.
  • The extension of the federal advisory committee focused on air travel for people with disabilities.

Similar aviation legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate this week that also includes air travel improvements for people with disabilities, including priorities recommended in Cure SMA’s Good, Bad, and Ugly Air Travel Report.  

What This Week’s Actions Mean for Air Passengers with SMA: 

The disability-related provisions included in both pending U.S. House and U.S. Senate bills are meaningful and, if finalized, will make a difference in the lives of air passengers with SMA and other disabilities, including those who fly in power wheelchairs. This initial action is the result of the SMA community’s collective advocacy, which included Cure SMA’s national air travel reportcongressional testimony that highlighted SMA community air travel recommendations, and education by the SMA community, including nearly 1,000 individual messages to Members of Congress. 

Cure SMA will continue to advocate for the needs of the SMA community and work with other national organizations to ensure the FAA reauthorization legislation is finalized before the end of this year. SMA community advocates and others interested in improving air travel for individuals with SMA and other disabilities can engage and educate their Members of Congress through Cure SMA’s accessible air travel action alert.  

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