Photo: Airplane bathroom sign. (Photo @DBennetGroup)
On Monday, the United States Department of Transportation announced a new agreement to improve the accessibility of bathrooms on single-aisle airplanes and of in-flight entertainment.
According to the Transportation Department’s official website, the ACCESS Advisory Committee’s decision was made to improve the experience of flying for everyone, especially the passengers dealing with disabilities.
As a result, the agreement will begin instituting short-term and long-term policies to ensure passengers with mobility impairments have access to onboard restroom facilities. Currently, many travelers dealing with disabilities avoid flying or dehydrate themselves to avoid needing to use the bathroom.
In addition, ACCESS Advisory Committee also announced certain movies and shows shown on flights would be captioned to provide access to deaf and hard of hearing passengers. Audio-described entertainment would also be available for blind passengers.
“The agreement reached by the ACCESS Advisory Committee is an important step towards ensuring that air travelers with disabilities have equal access to air transportation,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “It is unfair to expect individuals with limited mobility to refrain from using the restroom when they fly on single aisle aircraft, particularly since single aisle aircraft are increasingly used for longer flights.”
“It is also unfair for passengers who are deaf or blind not to be able to enjoy the same entertainment that is available to other passengers,” Foxx continued. “I’m pleased that all involved parties are working together towards our common goal of universal access to the air transportation system. We are committed to issuing a rulemaking to implement this agreement.”
In the short term, airlines will be required to improve the accessibility of bathrooms and improve the safety and maneuverability for the aircraft’s on-board wheelchair. As for long-term solutions, all airlines must provide an accessible lavatory on every single-aisle aircraft with more than 125 passenger seats.
For the in-flight entertainment, the ACCESS Advisory Committee has setup a timeline to ensure that any seatback entertainment systems installed on new or existing aircraft will be accessible to passengers dealing with disabilities.
For more information on the Department of Transportation’s new rules and timeline for changes, check out the government agency’s official website.