Thursday, June 02, 2011

JJ and travel

My deaf-blind friend JJ will be attending AADB's convention (or, as they're calling it this year, "symposium") later this month. I will be missing AADB for the first time since 1989, and that disappoints me, but the reality is that I can't afford it. I haven't worked full-time in quite a while, and the air fare would be a killer.

JJ is going, but as he's not only deaf-blind, but uses a wheelchair and -- this is the obstacle the airline is most concerned about -- has no way to communicate with the airline staff on the plane, the airline is requiring him to bring a traveling companion to assist with communication. I can't dispute that. What I DO dispute is that the airlines are trying to charge the assistant, who is there at THEIR insistence, full fare for both round-trips, both to help him get to the convention and a week later to help him come home.

Excuse me? I understand that they are insisting on a companion to be with JJ because in this specific case, that's the best way to ensure communication with a person who hasn't got clear speech, and whose neuropathy prevents him from reading Braille or print-on-palm. This concept, I get. But I DON'T get the attempt to force the companion, whose presence they are requiring, to pay full fare for two round trips. I'm sorry, but that smacks of an attempt by the airlines to line their own pockets.

This can't be legal. There has got to be some part of ADA that sets down guidelines for this particular Reasonable Accomodation. JJ's mom sent an email with an excerpt from something called DHHCANN, which states that the airlines are not to charge the companion a fare; but I don't know what DHHCANN is. Is it a law? A guideline? I'll have to look it up.

But it would make life a whole lot easier if the freaking airlines would just do the right thing without being forced to, and just offer the free companion ticket. Sheesh. One would think they'd WANT to make nice to potential customers these days, as they're all hurting for business in this rotten economy. But noooo, that makes too much sense. :-P

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