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Equal Access to Transportation: A Right for All Americans

Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood describes the administration's efforts to make transportation more accessible for everyone. Along with making transportation more accessible, the DOT has stepped up enforcement to ensure every American's right to access transportation.

Transportation is about a lot more than just getting around.  Our roadways, runways, and railways connect people with all of the things that make life worth living: family, education, job opportunities, and recreation.  That’s why we here at DOT--and the entire Obama Administration--are laser-focused on improving access to transportation for all Americans.

Last week, I joined the White House monthly disability call with the Special Assistant to President Obama on Disability Policy, Kareem Dale, to discuss with hundreds of stakeholders everything we’re doing at DOT to improve transportation access for people with disabilities.  In the twenty years since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, there’s no doubt we’ve made significant strides forward.  But we won’t rest until everyone has equal access to all forms of transportation.

In the last year, DOT announced the first federal rule to specifically provide ADA protections to people with disabilities who travel on boats and ships.  And we’re finalizing a regulation to improve accessibility at rail stations so that people with disabilities can get on the same rail cars that everyone else uses.

We’re also committed to improving the flying experience for people with disabilities.  We’ve proposed new rules that would:

  • Require airports to provide lifts for boarding and disembarking passengers;
  • Make it easier for people to fly with service animals; and
  • Improve access to airline websites, check-in kiosks, in-flight entertainment centers, audio-visual displays, medical oxygen, and airplane bathrooms. 

And as we prepare to mark the 25th anniversary of the Air Carrier Access Act this year, we’re stepping up enforcement efforts to make sure airlines respect the rights of air travelers with disabilities.  In the last year, our Aviation Enforcement Office assessed civil penalties ranging from $125,000 to $2 million against a number of U.S. carriers. 

Access to transportation is one of the most fundamental of American rights.  I’m proud of the progress we’ve made, but remain committed to achieving even more so that all Americans have the same opportunities for living, learning, and earning.