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the deaf person in the subway train which is stopped underground with no
As the previous discussion shows there are some positive steps
Much more can be and needs to be done. Some other suggestions
which have implications for the entire travel industry include training of
personnel and information sharing with hearing impaired travellers.
TRAINING OF TRAVEL INDUSTRY PERSONNEL:
Whatever accommodations are to be made, all contact personnel who deal with travellers need to know about hearing impaired travellers and their communication needs. There are very different communication skills and pre
ferences among hearing impaired people. Travel personnel must be aware of the
options for communication as well as techniques for communicating with hearing
impaired travellers both in general situations and in emergencies.
Another important area needing attention of travel personnel is attitudes and misconceptions about hearing impairment which can prevent effective two-way communication between the hearing service provider and the
SHARING INFORMATION ON WHAT'S AVAILABLE:
When any such access accommodations are made available for hearing
impaired travellers, notices of availability must be posted at central locations so that hearing-impaired travellers will know where to go and what to ask for.
All telephone directories should list prominently not only the TDD
service operator's number, but local TDD numbers for emergency assistance or for access to public information in a specific locality.
On a national basis, hearing impaired persons as well as travel industry personnel need to know what's available to assist hearing impaired travellers.
Several consumer organizations offer such information to disabled travellers
and consumer groups of hearing impaired persons actively share this information with members as it becomes available. Among the consumer organizations involved infinformation sharing are Mobility International USA (MIUSA), The Handicapped and Elderly Travellers Association (THETA), the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), Self-Help for Hard of Hearing People (SHHH), the Consumer Organization for the Hearing Impaired (COHI). The Travel Information Center of the Moss Rehabilitation Hospital provides free information on accessible hotels/motels,
tourist attractions, modes of transportation, etc. Access for the Handicapped
promotes access for handicapped persons in all areas. The Society for the Advancement of Travel for the Handicapped (SATH), which has a membership composed of travel agents, representatives from segments of the travel industry, and disabled consumers, shares information through its newsletters.
Despite these activities, it is difficult to keep abreast of all the
provisions made for disabled travellers across the United States. How do we
share that information so that disabled travellers and their families and
friends can have access to it easily and quickly? How efficient is it to call
There are urgent issues of accessibility to travel and to information
about travel services confronting us today. Mr. Chairman and members of this
distinguished committe, we urge Congress to consider these issues as they affect not only hearing impaired travellers but all other disabled travellers.
Mr. FLORIO. Thank you very much.
STATEMENT OF GORDON H. MANSFIELD Mr. MANSFIELD. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, it is a pleasure for Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA] to appear today and present the views and concerns of its members regarding transportation for the handicapped. I am Gordon H. Mansfield, national advocacy director of Paralyzed Veterans of America.
PVA is a congressionally chartered veterans' service organization with over 11,000 members, all of whom have served in the U.S. Armed Forces and have incurred spinal cord injury or disease, both service-connected and nonservice-connected in origin. All of PVA's members are handicapped within the meaning of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended.
Mr. Chairman, PVA has historically addressed the issues of accessibility and maximum independence for our members and all disabled citizens. We are particularly pleased that this hearing is being conducted today, for transportation is one of the paramount aspects of an accessible, integrated society. For many years, PVA has been actively involved in addressing the transportation needs of America's disabled citizens.
I have brought with me, and I ask to be submitted for the record, two specific documents which the committee has. The first is a petition submitted to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which was mentioned earlier by Mr. Richardson.
The second document is PVA's comments on the notice of proposed rulemaking which will be filed with the Department of Transportation. This concerns transit programs receiving Federal financial assistance from DOT. This document contains PVA's specific concerns regarding the Federal Government's position on accessible mass transportation.
PVA's expeience has been that this Nation has been slow in responding to the accessibility requirements of the Nation's disabled citizens. This has been true in the removal of barriers, both architectural and attitudinal, as has already been discussed here by the panel today. However, we have noted that during the past decade, especially since the passage of the Rehabilitation Act, there has been an increasing awareness of these needs. Unfortunately, meeting the needs has not always been accomplished and has been done in a sporadic and piecemeal fashion.
PVA's efforts to insure that adequate travel resources are available to disabled individuals has led us to work with a wide range of organizations and agencies, both private and governmental. In all of these actions, PVA has consistently stressed the need for a comprehensive, integrated approach in addressing the needs of the disabled traveler. Travel, particularly intercity travel, if inaccessible, can pose a serious hindrance to the disabled traveler if not preclude travel altogether.
In that vein, during the past year PVA has attended conferences conducted by the Department of Commerce. As was mentioned by the Under Secretary here today, we were participants in the February conference, we have also had meetings with associations such as the Air Transport Association and we have continued our active participation in the access to the skies program conducted by Rehabilitation International, U.S.A.
This program is one of the forerunners in gaining accessible air transportation, and has had air carriers, aircraft manufacturers, seating manufacturers, and others including the travel industry involved, and it was an attempt to sit down and discuss what the problems were and analyze them and try and arrive at some reasonable solution. Part of that solution has been the Boeing 767 aircraft, which most airlines have accepted in its complete accessibility package. However, it is not true that every 767 flying has an onboard stowaway wheelchair, because all air transport lines have not seen fit to purchase that feature.
The first factor which PVA believes is the biggest problem for the disabled traveler is the lack of continuity in available services. The disabled traveler is continuously faced with unexpected obstacles. Such obstacles are so numerous as to become the norm, and I will give a few incidents to illustrate this.
For example, a disabled traveler going from Washington, D.C., to New York City using the Amtrak system can get on the train here at Union Station, and it is most accessible because Amtrak has made a special policy and has followed up to make their fleet accessible-including wider aisles and special cars designated for handicapped travelers.
However, when you reach Pennsylvania Station in New York, you have a problem, because when the traveler leaves the train he is below street level, and there are no suitable facilities for reaching the street. You have two options if you are in a wheelchair. The first is an escalator which is totally unsafe at best or impossible to use. The second option is to find a station attendant who has a key to the one elevator which is used primarily for the removal of garbage and trash, and go to the street level through the trash truck entrance.
A second example of the lack of continuity or uniformity regards air travel. The disabled traveler has, generally, learned from experience that it is prudent to contact the air carrier prior to departure and notify them that the traveler has a disabling condition. This is due in part to the diversity of requirements and procedures established by individual air carriers.
The disabled traveler upon arrival at the airport, finds that despite his previous contact with the carrier that the procedures are interpreted differently by the personnel working at the time. The traveler then must undergo changes in plans, acrimonious discussions, or accept demeaning treatment, if he wants to get transportation.
This situation can be exacerbated when differing interpretations are made from airport to airport by the same carrier or even person to person within the same airport or the same airline.
A second factor, which was mentioned previously earlier today, is the limitation of available accommodations, including dining opportunities, and recreational facilities. While these are part of the larger problem of architectural barriers in society, they do pose a serious limitation for options available to the disabled traveler. PVA recognizes that the Government cannot mandate accessibility in the private sector. However, we believe that it should be encouraged, and we do believe that the Government should be the leader.
One area that we were asked to address in this statement is the adequacy of existing Federal laws and policies. In this regard, PVA would like to comment on one specific action which is needed to provide improved accessibility in the private sector. This is section 190 of the Tax Code.
Until December 31, 1982, there existed a provision where a tax deduction was provided for the removal of architectural barriers in privately owned, publicly used places of commerce, employment, and recreation. This provision was allowed to expire last year. We would also like to point out and thank Mr. Lent for a comparable bill on reinstituting this aspect of the tax law and his efforts on behalf of accessibility. There are presently pending several legislative proposals which would reinstate section 190.
Mr. FLORIO. Is there any evidence that it was ever used?
Mr. MANSFIELD. There is certain evidence. However, one of the problems we found, again, Mr. Chairman, in gathering information for testimony, is that the Department of Treasury or IRS did not maintain any specific records. However, PVA has done its own private surveys, and presented this information in testimony before various subcommittees, and we have also had individuals from Treasury testify during the last session of Congress on the extension of this bill, in favor of it.
We realize that you are discussing disabled travelers and that the House Committee on Ways and Means addresses changes in the Tax Code, but we would like to point out that this situation is all involved, and you have to consider the totality of the circumstances.
Another point we would like to make is that as more and more disabled individuals enter the work force and jobs of responsibility and independence, the requirements for uniformly accessible transportation and facilities increases. The very livelihood of the disabled worker may depend on adequate transportation.
Like any other business person, the disabled business traveler must have access to a readily usable network of transportation services. It is PVA's firm conviction that the travel needs of the disabled business traveler, as well as the disabled tourist, must be met if this Nation is to be truly accessible.
Mr. Chairman, on behalf of the members of Paralyzed Veterans of America and all disabled citizens we welcome this hearing. It is essential that the problems of the disabled traveler be addressed and hearings such as this greatly assist in focusing attention on this multifaceted issue. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of efforts to create a uniform, comprehensive approach to the travel needs of disabled individuals.
Again, thank you. This concludes my statement, and I will be happy to address any questions that I can.
[The statement of Mr. Mansfield follows: