Federal Government to Survey Travellers' Accessibility

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OTTAWA - July 28, 2000 - Canadian travellers with disabilities who fly in or out of six major Canadian International Airports between May and August will have a chance to tell the federal government whether their travel needs are being accommodated.

Representatives of the Canadian Transportation Agency will be conducting a "Taking Charge of Air Travel" survey at Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Terminals 1 and 2 from August 1 to 5 to try to determine how well airlines and airports have improved their responses to difficulties that are often encountered by this important segment of the travelling public. This is the final in a series of surveys that have been conducted in Ottawa, Halifax, Calgary, Vancouver and Montreal during the summer months.

The Agency's mandate is to administer Canadian legislation and policies to promote a national transportation system that is accessible to persons with disabilities.

Included in the Agency survey will be questions concerning ease of access to different areas at the airports, readability of flight schedule monitors, clarity of public address announcements, check-in personnel's awareness of services and facilities available to persons with disabilities, facilitation of passenger boarding and publication/baggage handling, seating and washroom arrangements, availability of wheelchairs on-board aircrafts, and accommodations provided for service animals.

The Agency has been working with airlines and airports for several years in an effort to improve services and facilities for persons with disabilities. Seniors, many of whom experience similar needs and challenges, also benefit from the Agency's work to remove obstacles to travel.

"The airlines and airports have assured us that they are committed to learning more about the needs of this segment of their client base so they can provide better service," said Marian Robson, Chairman of the Canadian Transportation Agency. "This survey will be conducted at six major Canadian airports to find out whether the air industry is meeting the needs of persons with disabilities."

The Agency has the power under the Canada Transportation Act to develop binding regulations to remove undue obstacles to persons with disabilities who travel on federally-regulated modes of transportation. However, it will work in partnership with the travel industry at every opportunity to improve conditions for accessible transportation.

The Agency works to inform service providers of their obligations and as well to inform Canadian travellers of the services provided . The results of the survey will be shared with both the travel industry and travellers in an effort to promote better service.

"While there has been progress in accessible transportation in recent years, challenges still exist." explained Jim McDonald, a Canadian National Institute for the Blind representative on the Agency's Accessibility Advisory Committee. "We applaud the initiatives of the Agency, its ongoing efforts towards accessible and enjoyable travel for persons with disabilities and look forward to the results of the survey."

Agency representatives will be wearing noticeable pink shirts to clearly identify themselves on the dates that the survey will be conducted.

"We are hoping that persons with disabilities, seniors, including their friends, relatives, health care professionals and the media will help us advise Canadians with disabilities that this important survey is taking place," said Ms. Robson. "The Canadian Transportation Agency's 'Taking Charge of Air Travel' survey is one tool people can use to help take charge of their lives. We want to ensure that the message of persons with disabilities gets across to the travel industry, the public and government."

For more information on Accessible Transportation and the Canadian Transportation Agency, please phone 1-800-883-1813, or go to Web site www.otc-cta.gc.ca. TTY 1-800-669-5575.



Information: Hélène Nadeau - (819) 953-2749


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