Disabled still being let down despite Paralympic success, say North Yorkshire women (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Disabled still being let down despite Paralympic success, say North Yorkshire women
DESPITE the success of the Paralympics, a traumatic airline experience endured by two severely disabled women highlights the need for better facilities and more understanding about the needs of people with disabilities, their carers say.
One of the women was left rigid with fear while the other screamed with fright when air crews had no option but to manually lift them up the aircraft’s steps ahead of a Flybe flight from Durham Tees Valley (DTV) to Jersey.
Carers Carl and Brenda Bray, from Great Ayton, North Yorkshire, say the experience was made even worse because the women had to be removed from their specially-adapted wheelchairs before being lifted into the cabin.
During previous flights, the women were transported into the aircraft in their own wheelchairs using a mechanical lift known as an Ambulift.
However, the party was told that airline Flybe would not allow the lift to be used with the type of aircraft they were boarding – a Dash 8 jet.
Mr Bray, 70, said he advised when booking that the women were severely disabled and would need an Ambulift to board the aircraft.
He added: “It spoilt the holiday because all the time we were there, we knew we might have the same experience coming back.”
Mr Bray said the airline had failed to take into account that the women were both severely disabled.
“What makes me most angry is that they failed to realise that disabled people do not all have the same disabilities, and arrangements for some people may not be suitable for others,” he said.
Mr and Mrs Bray said the incident highlighted the fact that, despite the success of the Paralympics, the rights and needs of disabled people were still being ignored.
Flybe yesterday apologised to Mr and Mrs Bray and their party.
A spokeswoman said: “By way of apology and a gesture of goodwill, the group has been offered financial recompense by Flybe.
“Flybe will also be implementing discussions with both airports to prevent similar situations arising in future.”
Shaun Woods, airport manager at DTV, said staff had asked the Flybe flight deck crew if the disabled women could be taken on-board using the Ambulift, but the request was refused