Dominick on a TrainDominick, a 30-something wheelchair user, sits in the large wheelchair seating spot on the Hudson line train heading into Grand Central in NYC, a trip he can take because the train is accessible, and it only takes an hour and a half to get there.

I Haven’t Been Able to Fly Since I Could Walk in the 1990s

I have a progressive neuromuscular disability that is known as Spinal Muscular Atrophy. I was able to walk until 1996, when I was 15 years old. Since then, I have been unable to fly. It has been a real inconvenience, because I have my BFA in Film, and I should have access to travel between California and New York for my work. Instead, if I want to go anywhere, I have to find a way to bring my wheelchair accessible van along. When I was in school, at a Midwestern University, I had to travel to New York City regularly for film, and I had so much trouble finding someone to drive me the 12 hours it took. I also had the added pressure of having to find afford parking, in the city. It would have been much cheaper, much easier, and much faster to take a plane.

I have been unable to go out to California, which would greatly benefit me, career wise. I have had to turn down multiple career opportunities, because California is so far away. I have been invited to so many events that would help move my career forward, and it is because planes are not accessible to people like me! I am completely unable to transfer to another chair, even with help, and I need the support my specially designed wheelchair provides, support that an airplane seat does not provide. If I ever managed to get into an airplane seat, I would be so uncomfortable, and most likely unable to sit upright. It would also be a great risk, to put me in such a seat.

I am unable to take a train out to California, because the journey is too long, and the bathrooms are not accessible. I could wait to use the bathroom on a flight from NY (where I now live) to CA, because it only takes a few hours! Trains take days to travel the same distance. I don’t have the luxury of waiting that long, so unless I spend a week or longer on the road, driving out west, I am unable to go there unless planes become accessible. It is a travesty that it is 2016, and disabled people still can’t use their wheelchairs on planes.

Planes will not be accessible to everyone until they start allowing people with disabilities who use wheelchairs and cannot transfer out of their chairs, to stay in them. We have the capabilities to make this happen, so we need to act now!

Mr. Dominick Evans, NY