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UK govt working to make air travel more accessible to disabled

Friday 13th April 2018
Occupational therapists could help advise on the governments plans to make air travel more accessible for wheelchair users. Manuel-F-O via iStock
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The UK government is working on a plan to make air travel more accessible for people with disabilities - something that occupational therapists could help to advise on, bringing their years of expertise to the process.

Measures that could significantly improve the experience of air travel for disabled passengers could include shorter waiting times for assistance boarding and disembarking.

What's more, the government wants disabled people's wheelchairs to be returned to them more quickly at the end of the flights, allowing them to be more independent upon arrival at their destination.

Ministers are working closely with the aviation industry on these plans, with another key consideration being priority storage for wheelchairs, which would help to give passengers who use them greater peace of mind during their journeys.

Keith Richards, an adviser to the government on transport provision for disabled individuals, explained that wheelchairs are "too often treated in the same way as baggage", despite many people relying on them for their personal mobility.

In addition, discussions are taking place to assess the possibility of allowing wheelchairs to be used in cabins, which would require the removal of other seats. Space for disabled toilets is also being considered, with each of these measures having the potential to open up air travel to a greater number of people, including those who cannot easily transfer out of their wheelchairs or require a specialist chair at all times.

Baroness Liz Sugg, minister for aviation, commented: "We have to do everything possible to ensure passengers are put at the very heart of our aviation industry and the flying experience is a positive one for everyone boarding a plane."

Occupational therapists could therefore play an important role in making air travel more accessible to passengers with disabilities, working closely with airlines to advise on changes they could make to ensure the comfort and safety of all travellers.

The government's new aviation strategy is set to be published in March next year.

Written by Alex Franklin Stortford

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