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New guidance that will facilitate transport for disabled people has been announced by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which will include the transportation of mobility aids such as walkers or wheelchairs for those in need.

According to a press release by IATA, safe and efficient transport for this category of people was prioritized, and governments and other bodies have come together to create a guideline that will ensure accessible transportation people with disabilities, reports.

The new guidance key elements include improved processes for booking and information exchange processes, such as the use of Special Service Request (SSR) and Passenger Name Requirement (PNR) codes which will give specific information on the mobility aids offered.

Moreover, recommendations to create mobility aid tags will contain technical information to help airlines to transport the aid safely, which will be complemented by advice to airlines to develop a communications toolkit for people with disabilities, such as an accessible website.

The new guidance also includes practices for the collection, loading, and return of mobility aids and a recommendation for staff training to handle mobility aids.

Nick Careen, IATA’s Vice President for Operations, Safety, and Security, said that airlines are determined to ensure passengers with disabilities have a comfortable travelling experience.

“This new guidance, created in partnership with key players in the travel chain, will improve service and significantly reduce damage to these vital devices that are often an extension to the body of a passenger with a disability,” Careen said.

He also noted that communication is critical to improving how mobility aids are handled. The guidance includes steps for all; passengers, airlines, and travelling by exchanging information at any stage of the trip.

Some of the issues that disabled people encounter when travelling include not accessible bus tours and lack of designated areas for wheelchair space, in contrast, those travelling by plane will have to be seated on aeroplane seats as it isn’t possible to onboard an aircraft in a wheelchair.

Moreover, some can even have their wheelchair damaged during travelling or need to be accompanied during their trip, which also can be inconvenient for this category.

In addition, very few accommodation spots have hotel rooms for disabled people, indicating a lack of awareness of the challenges that disabled people deal with when travelling.

All these challenges discourage disabled people from booking trips or travelling altogether, as they take fewer than 400 trips per year. About 19 per cent of people with disabilities don’t go on trips due to transport difficulty, and 26, 41 and 50 per cent of those have problems that make it more challenging to travel by one, two or three transport modes, as a report by the UK’s Department for Transport shows.

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