Moving Ahead [June 2013]

A new Code of Practice to make smaller airports more accessible

The Agency released in March a new Accessibility Code of Practice and resource tool to improve the accessibility of smaller airports for persons with disabilities.

While the Agency already had a Code of Practice for the 26 national airports that form our National Airports System (NAS) and account for about 94% of passenger traffic, there were no current standards to address physical accessibility, communications or services to persons with disabilities in smaller, non-NAS airports. The Agency’s new code of practice fills this void, and applies to all non-NAS airports that handle more than 10,000 passengers a year — that’s over 90 airports in Canada.

The Code provides technical specifications for the physical aspects of airports, and also covers issues like disability-related services, personnel training and communication. It sets out standards intended to solve systemic problems faced by persons with disabilities.

To develop the Code, the Agency consulted with its Accessibility Advisory Committee, which has representation from transportation service providers and disability associations, as well as other stakeholders.

Compliance reports (like the ones described in the following article) show that voluntary codes of practice help make the federal transportation system more accessible to persons with disabilities.

Two compliance reports show impressive compliance rates from the industry

The Agency released two accessibility compliance reports: Air Carrier Compliance Report: Domestic Carriers and Rail Code Compliance Report: VIA Rail Canada, demonstrating positive results for accessibility of the national transportation system for persons with disabilities.

The Agency will continue its education and monitoring efforts to ensure that persons with disabilities can travel without encountering undue obstacles to their mobility.

New accessibility tools on Vancouver International Airport's website

In January 2013, the Vancouver Airport Authority (VAA), in partnership with Spinal Cord BC (formerly the BC Paraplegic Association), released a suite of new tools to enhance accessible travel at the Vancouver International Airport.

The tools include a series of YouTube videos, each of them a minute long, that focus on essential aspects of navigating an airport, from curbside drop-off to boarding.

In addition to the videos, an in-depth accessible travel guide (in pdf format) was developed. It provides a wealth of information on topics like trip planning, tips on packing your bags, boarding an aircraft, and how to retrieve your luggage upon arrival. 

The Vancouver International Airport website has also been updated to include a series of passenger guides specifically tailored for any passenger arriving, departing, or connecting to the airport. These guides filter information based on country of origin or destination and name of the air carrier to provide relevant resources such as terminal maps and details on border services and baggage. A list of services and amenities (complete with links), and information on accessible transportation can also be found in these sections.

These new tools are a welcome addition as they not only benefit persons with disabilities, but everyone who uses the transportation system in Canada.

New training program on assisting persons with disabilities

The Agency recently developed a training program, Accessibility for All, intended to help transportation service providers (air, rail, marine and terminal operators) train their staff, in compliance with the requirements of the Personnel Training for the Assistance of Persons with Disabilities Regulations.

Accessibility for All is a comprehensive, 45-minute training program which consists of several modules that include video demonstrations. Thanks to the collaboration of the community of persons with disabilities and transportation service providers (Air Canada, the Ottawa Airport Authority, VIA Rail and WestJet), the videos show true-to-life situations, where people with disabilities interact with transportation personnel inside an aircraft, a train, and at the Ottawa airport and train station.

Agency staff is currently promoting and distributing this material to transportation service providers.

The Agency at People in Motion

At the end of May, the Agency once again participated in the People in Motion show, Canada's most comprehensive exhibition for people with disabilities.

Agency staff was on hand to answer questions and to provide resources for travellers with disabilities, which are also available on our website in a variety of formats.

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