Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Chennai airport sensitises staff on handling disabled passengers

Chennai: As flying continues to be a hassle and often a humiliating experience for passengers who use wheelchairs, the Chennai airport has started to sensitise CISF personnel and airline staff on security checks for disabled people.

Last week, Sudha Chandran, an actor-cum-dancer was made to remove her prosthetic limb at security check at Mumbai airport, causing an uproar followed by an apology by the CISF.

The CISF personnel and airport staff are also being sensitised in handling wheelchair passengers who need assistance for moving from one wheelchair to another, and also to board the aircraft.

The session included inputs from disabled passengers who have faced difficulties while using airports. With passenger numbers increasing, the airport has resumed the training which was not there for the last two years.

Nevertheless, in the absence of adequate explosive trace detectors, disabled passengers are often told to stand up, lift or untie their clothes to show calipers by the CISF personnel who handle the security check.

Vaishnavi Jayakumar, member of Disability Rights Alliance, said that much of this could be avoided by sensitisation as part of CISF aviation security curriculum. She said that asking people to remove their prostheses could be painful as well as humiliating. "It would help if airlines have proper special service request options when tickets are being booked or during pre-journey," she added.

D Gnana Bharathi, president, Spinal Injured Persons Association, who took part in the sensitisation programme held at the airport, said that more needs to be done. "The CISF and airport staff need sensitisation. They often look at us with suspicion, often instructing us to stand up or taking us to another room for further checks."

He also said that the way airline or airport staff carry the disabled into the flight via the boarding ladder is not very comfortable. "I have requested the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to allow passengers to use their wheelchairs to avoid the unpleasant experience of being carried by four people into the aircraft." The airport also should create a facility by which the disabled who arrive by flights should be dropped to the cabs, metro station or suburban trains outside the airport.

26/10/21 Times of India

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