Decision No. 360-AT-A-1998
Follow-up Decision No. 320-AT-A-1999
July 15, 1998
APPLICATION by Henry Vlug pursuant to subsection 172(1) of the Canada Transportation Act, S.C. 1996.
File No. U 3570/98-6
On March 19, 1998, Henry Vlug filed an application with the Canadian Transportation Agency (hereinafter the Agency) concerning the insufficient number of TTY pay phones (telephone-teletype used by persons with a hearing impairment) at the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport and the absence of signage to indicate the location of the TTY pay phones.
The issue to be addressed is whether or not the number of TTY pay phones at the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport and the lack of signage constituted an undue obstacle to the mobility of Mr. Vlug and, if so, what corrective measures should be taken.
Mr. Vlug is deaf and requires the use of a TTY. In March 1998, he travelled via the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport on several occasions.
There is presently one TTY pay phone at the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport. This phone is located on the ground floor in the arrival area and is identified by a pictogram placed on the wall directly above the phone. In addition, there is a phone equipped with a TTY on the Hotel Reservation Phone Board. This phone is only used as a link to local hotels.
On April 28, 1998, the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport Authority (hereinafter the OAA) advised that it has installed in various locations on the main floor additional directional signage to indicate the location of the existing TTY pay phone.
POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES
Mr. Vlug submits that he found only one TTY phone in the entire airport, that the height of the TTY is such that it requires a person to kneel to use it and that there was no signage indicating that it is a TTY. Mr. Vlug is of the view that TTY pay phones should be found at all banks of telephones, be identified with clear signage and be properly located throughout the airport. Mr. Vlug considers that for a facility like the Ottawa airport, two or even three pay TTYs is not adequate.
The OAA recognizes that there is room for improvement with respect to the number of pay TTYs and related signage. The OAA provided a pictogram of the airport and advises that in addition to the existing pay TTY in the public arrival area, it plans to install, beyond the security check points, two additional TTY pay phones at the following locations:
- near gate 16 in the Domestic and International Departures Area on the second floor; and
- in the recently constructed United States departures holdroom area, also on the second floor.
The OAA indicates that the installation of the new phones is scheduled to be completed by mid-July. The OAA also indicates its commitment to making improvements in the area of signage and advises that it will install multi-directional signage which will indicate the location of the new pay TTYs. It also advises that it plans to install directory boards at the main entrance of the terminal to indicate to all travellers where services are located, including TTY pay phones.
The OAA submits that all public pay phones in the terminal are equipped with volume-control devices and accept portable TTYs. On the issue of the height of the TTY, the OAA advises that although the phone in question is the same height as the other public pay phones installed at the airport, it is looking at the possibility of installing a wall-mounted swivel chair.
ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS
In making its findings, the Agency has considered all of the evidence submitted by the parties during pleadings.
With respect to the number of TTYs at the Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier International Airport, the Agency notes that at the time of Mr. Vlug's travel there was only one TTY pay phone and, excluding the sign posted above the phone, there was no identification that such a facility was available at the airport.
Although Mr. Vlug did not elaborate on the incident or incidents he experienced and indicates that he "found" a TTY, the Agency finds that there was not appropriate signage directing him to the telephone. The Agency is of the opinion that accessibility features such as TTY pay phones should be properly displayed to ensure that these facilities may be located quickly and easily by travellers who are deaf or hard of hearing. Accordingly, the Agency finds that in this case, the lack of appropriate signage to indicate the location of the existing TTY constituted an undue obstacle to the mobility of Mr. Vlug.
The Agency must also determine whether or not the number of TTY pay phones at the airport constituted an undue obstacle. In making this determination, the size and nature of each operation or facility must be considered individually.
The Agency has established in recommendation No. 15 of its Communication Barriers Report released on November 20, 1997 that as a minimum, airport operators should ensure that an adequate number of public TTYs and volume-controlled phones are available, in both the public area and the arrival and departure area, 24 hours a day.
The Agency notes that the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport serves the National Capital Region, and according to Aviation Statistics Centre of Statistics Canada it was the seventh busiest airport in 1996, with approximately 3 million enplaned and deplaned passengers. The Agency also notes that there are no TTYs beyond the security check points on the second floor and that there is only one pay TTY available in the general public area on the ground floor. The Agency is of the opinion that given the type of operation at the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport, the provision of only one TTY pay phone coupled with the absence of signage, constitutes an undue obstacle to the travelling public requiring the use of these services.
As a result of Mr. Vlug's complaint, the OAA will install two TTY pay phones beyond the security check points, one in the Domestic/ International departure area and one in the United States Departure area and has now installed additional directional signage in various locations to ensure that the existing pay TTY located in the public arrivals area may be located quickly and easily. In addition, the OAA states that appropriate additional signage and directory boards will be installed to indicate the location of all pay TTYs.
The Agency is also of the opinion that the OAA should either install a pay TTY in the public departure area on the ground floor or precise signage directing travellers to the nearest pay TTY. The Agency also suggests that to further improve existing signage, the OAA should consider indicating where the TTYs are located on each telephone sign. For example, a note could be posted at each bank of pay phones stating where the nearest TTY is located.
With respect to the issue of the installation of a wall-mounted swivel chair, the OAA should provide the results of its research.
The Agency finds that these measures should help prevent the recurrence of the situations experienced by Mr. Vlug and in eliminating undue obstacles to the mobility of persons with disabilities.
Based on the above findings, the Agency requires the OAA to complete, no later than thirty (30) days from the date of this Decision, the installation of:
- the two TTY pay phones in the Domestic/ International and United States Departure areas, including all appropriate signage; and
- one pay phone equipped with a TTY in the public departure area on the ground floor, or precise signage directing TTY users to the nearest TTY.
The OAA is then required, within sixty (60) days from the date of this Decision to provide the Agency with a confirmation that installations have been completed. The OAA must also provide a report on the results of its research for a wall-mounted swivel type of chair and advise the Agency on action, if any, taken for the acquisition of the chair.
Following its review of the requested information, the Agency will determine whether further action is required.
- Gilles Dufault
- Mary-Jane Bennett