• Friday, July 19, 2024
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What to do when travelling with disabilities

travelling with disabilities

A person has a disability if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits at least one major life activity. With proper preparation, many travellers with disabilities can travel internationally. Some travellers with disabilities, such as those with mobility limitations, vision or hearing loss, or cognitive disabilities may require special attention and adaptation of transportation services.

Before Travel: Travellers are advised to consult with travel agents, hotels, airlines or cruise ship companies to learn about services for people with disabilities during the trip and at the destination. It is strongly recommended they purchase medical insurance with medical evacuation plans.

Travellers should carry medical alert information and a letter from their health care provider describing medical conditions, medications, potential complications, and other pertinent medical information. Enough prescription medication to last the entire trip, including extra medicine in case of delay should be carried. Prescriptions must all be carried in their labelled containers, not in a pill pack.

Assistive Equipment: Travellers are advised to find out if there are specific policies for devices such as wheelchairs, portable machines, batteries, respirators, and oxygen. Consider renting wheelchairs and medical equipment at the destination. Research the availability of wheelchair and medical equipment providers. Websites such as Mobility International USA (www.miusa.org) or the European Network for Accessible Tourism (www.accessibletourism.org) will have links to overseas medical equipment providers. Consider the use of manual versus power wheelchairs. The country voltage, type of electrical plug, and reliability of the electrical infrastructure at the destination country may make one type of wheelchair preferable over another.

Service Animals: It is important to contact the embassy of the destination country for information on possible restrictions and cultural norms about service animal. Find out about any quarantine, vaccination, and documentation requirements. Consult veterinarians about tips for travelling with service animals. Contact destination hotels to make sure they will accommodate service animals.

Air Travel: Travellers planning to fly between foreign countries or within a foreign country while abroad should check with the overseas airlines to ensure that the carriers adhere to accessibility standards adequate for their needs.

Security: There is an established a program for screen­ing travellers with disabilities and their equipment, mobility aids, and devices. There are permissions for prescriptions, liquid medications, and other liquids needed by people with disabilities and medical conditions. Travellers who have disabilities or medical conditions that may affect screening may use notification cards to communicate.

Travellers can learn more about the guidelines for travellers with disabilities at www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures. As with other people with disabilities or medical conditions, travellers who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can provide officers with a notification card or other medical documentation that describes their condition and informs the officer about the need for assistance with the screening process. Travellers are not required to remove any hearing aids or external cochlear implant devices. Additional screening, including a pat-down or device inspection, may be required if assistance devices alarm security technology.

Boarding and Deplaning: There may be no jet way with smaller airplanes, and travellers who use wheelchairs may need to be manually lifted or carried down the stairs. Some airports have adapted hoists or lifts. An aisle chair is usually required to board and deplane.

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Travellers should be sure to mention they need an aisle chair, both when reserving tickets and when check­ing in at the airport (http://wheelchairtraveling.com/traveling-with-medical-equipment-or-a-wheelchair-handicap-limited-mobility-or-senior-at-airports-airplanes-and-all-aboutflying-faa-tsa-air-carriers-act).

Airlines may not require advance notice of a passenger with a disability. They may, however, require up to 48 hours advance notice and 1-hour advance check-in for certain accommodations that require preparation time, such as medical oxygen, incubator, Hook-up for a respirator to the aircraft electrical power supply, accommodation for a passenger who must travel in a stretcher, transportation of an electric wheelchair on an aircraft with <60 seats, provision of an onboard wheelchair (aisle chair) for use on an aircraft that does not have an accessible lavatory

Cruise Ships: All travellers with disabilities should check with individual cruise lines regarding availability of requested or needed items before booking. Cruise operators and travel agents that cater to travellers with special needs also exist.

Visit the web page “Your Health Abroad” for more information about international travel (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/before-you-go/your-health-abroad.html).

This website (www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures), provide answers to questions about screening policies, procedures, and the security checkpoints.

Travel Healthy, stay healthy and return healthy


Dr Ade Alakija

Q-life Family Clinic