Airports and disability

Airports represent an important relationship between disabled communities and travel. They function to open the door for easier travel of longer distances but are made difficult by a lack of accessibility both before and during the flight. It is another example of science progressing in such a way as to make enormous strides for disabled communities, but instead sit as a frustrating and difficult to navigate space. Thankfully, there are ways around the difficulties of navigating these spaces in the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), which serves to develop accessibility in air travel. There is a long list of things the ACAA requires of airlines, including help with assistive devices (wheelchairs, walkers, hearing aids, etc.), guided assistance, seating accommodations, and many more. Within assistance at the airport comes a need for help boarding and leaving the plain, in which the ACAA requires that assistance to go all the way from the terminal to the seat, and back should it be required. This does not require them to aid from the entrance however, which is another moment of the fight for accessibility. The people requesting this assistance would not be asking for it if it were not necessary. This is a moment where accessibility is blatantly different dependent on the what a given situation may call for. In Times square NYC, there were many sex theaters which were chronicled to some degree by Samuel Delaney, wherein contrary to the overt disdain of sex theaters Delaney describes, where the government actively seeks to remove accessibility at the detriment of marginalized groups, travel changes the way these conversations are had. This difficulty in travel extends past airports into hotels and cities, and the minimum requirements that the ADA established often still do not do enough to provide completely accessible spaces in travel, leaving those with disabilities either stuck in place, or with the difficulties of other travel routes. Part of the issue in these minimum requirements is that it is difficult to write up a law which creates solutions for every disability, but shows the importance of developing communities, much like Delaney’s theaters for the gay communities of New York, to find potential solutions.

Brief explanation of social model of disability

An important piece of looking at disability in any social setting is analyzing its impact on social theories of disability. While it has its flaws, this model is important in public spaces, as it attempts to analyze the root cause of the problems which reinforce the difficulties disabled communities face, and of course finding those root causes is the first step to isolating a solution.

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