10 Things to Know before Traveling
- Flying the Friendly Skies. Whether it’s for an important business trip or your next family vacation, here’s what you need to know to ensure a smooth flight. The Air Carrier Access Act requires that all domestic and international flights with a U.S. destination or departure point provide certain free accommodations to people with disabilities. Fliers with disabilities aren’t required to travel with another person (unless it’s for safety reasons) or notify an airline about their disability. For more information about your rights as an air passenger with a disability, read the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) air travelers with disabilities There are also guides specifically for passengers with developmental disabilities and those who use wheelchairs or other mobility aids. All passengers, including those with disabilities, must bescreened by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers. If you have questions or concerns about the process, contact TSA Cares by email or phone at 1-855-787-2227, or speak with a TSA officer beforehand. You may want to provide the officer with a TSA disability notification card or other medical documentation to describe your condition. If you experience disability-related air travel service problems, call DOT’s Air Travelers with Disabilities hotline at 1-800-778-4838 (TTY: 1-800-455-9880) or file a complaint online.
- Public Transportation. Public transportation is crucial for people with disabilities to have access to employment, education, health care and activities in their community.Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of theAmericans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protect people with disabilities from discrimination in public transportation services and facilities. The ADA also requires public transit agencies to provide free paratransit services (also called “dial-a-ride”) for people who cannot use regular (“fixed-route”) services because of a disability. Your public transportation provider may provide “travel training” programs to help you learn your way around the system. Check with your local public transportation provider for information about paratransit services in your area. Other transportation choices includeaccessible taxis or “share-a-ride” programs that use volunteer drivers. If you’ve experience problems with using public transportation services or facilities, call the Federal Transit Administration’s ADA Assistance Line at 1-888-446-4511or email ADAAssistance@dot.gov. You can also file a complaintonline. Visit Disability.gov’s Guide to Transportationor download Easter Seal’s “Everyday Travel Guide” to find tips for public transportation riders with disabilities. For more information about transportation services and reduced fare programs for people with disabilities and seniors, visit theAmerican Public Transportation Association or call the National Transit Hotline at 1-800-527-8279.
- Riding the Rails. Railway transit can be a convenient, fast and cost-effective option for many people. For people with disabilities, there are some important things to know when traveling by train. First, you may be eligible for certaindiscounts. Also, if you need an accommodation while in a train station or on a train, you should contact your rail carrier before your trip to let them know. Amtrak offers information for people who use wheelchairs or other mobility devices, portable oxygen equipment or service animals. It’s important to remember that rail providers may have different rules foremotional support animals and pets than for service animals.
- Winter Weather Travel. When winter storms hit, it’s important to put safety first, which means travel plans may need to be cancelled or postponed. As winter weather approaches, think of SNOW: “Stay off the roads, Not Out in the Weather.”However, even in the midst of the coldest winter weather, some travel must go on. If driving somewhere in the cold or snow, plan ahead by preparing your car for winter weather. Be sure to follow these winter driving tips, including keeping the gasoline tank at least half full at all times to avoid gas-line freeze up, and driving slowly during inclement weather. In case of an emergency while driving, be sure to keep a winter emergency kit in your car with items including a flashlight, food, water and warm clothing. Public transportation is often still an option during winter weather, but be careful when taking a train or a bus by following safety guidelines and dressing warmly. If you’re planning to travel by air during winter weather, check for flight delays or cancellations and take the proper steps in the event that a flight is cancelled.
- Adaptive Driving and Vehicle Modifications. Learning to drive, or re-learning after a disability or injury, can mean greater independence. You might take an adapted driver training course with a driver rehabilitation specialist or addspecialized equipment to your vehicle. The Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists’ (ADED) fact sheets explain how types of disabilities or health conditions may affect a person’s ability to drive and what changes can be made. Use ADED’s Driver Rehabilitation Provider and Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist search tools to find nearby adaptive driving programs. Check out United Spinal Association’s adaptive driving guide for information on driver training programs, adapting a vehicle and paying for vehicle modifications. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also has a helpful guide to Adapting Motor Vehicles for People with Disabilities. Find a dealership for adapted vehicles with ADED’s Mobility Equipment Dealer search tool. When it’s time to purchase an adapted vehicle or pay for modifications, many options for financial assistanceare available. State Vocational Rehabilitation agencies may help fund certain modifications if they’re necessary for the driver to get to work. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Automobile and Special Adaptive Equipment Grants help Veterans with certain service-connected disabilities buy an adapted vehicle or modify one. You may also wish to check with your state’s Assistive Technology Reuse program to see if they have adaptive equipment that works for you. For more information, read these tips on funding vehicle modifications or visit the Vehicle Modifications section of Disability.gov’s Guide to Transportation.