Paralympic Champion Left Stranded on Plane Without His Wheelchair
"It is inhumane and unfair taking people's independence away and not caring about it."
Australian Paralympic gold medalist Dylan Alcott spoke out on social media Friday after being left stranded on an airplane when his wheelchair was not brought to the gate, reported 1 News Now.
Alcott tweeted, "Left on ANOTHER PLANE without my wheelchair being brought to the gate. No idea where it is.
"Waiting for TOO LONG! Australian airlines need to sort their shit out. It is inhumane and unfair taking people's independence away and not caring about it," Alcott continued.
Left on ANOTHER PLANE without my wheelchair being brought to the gate. No idea where it is. Waiting for TOO LONG! Australian airlines need to sort their shit out. It is inhumane and unfair taking peoples independence away and not caring about it pic.twitter.com/IXPeVhm8qN— Dylan Alcott (@DylanAlcott) August 17, 2018
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Alcott’s venting was met with support from fans and fellow athletes.
The Melbourne-based athlete has earned a name for himself in both basketball and tennis. At age 17, Alcott won gold with the Australian men’s national wheelchair basketball team at the Beijing Paralympics. In 2014, he competed in the Men’s Quad Singles and Doubles, taking home gold medals. Alcott was honored as the 2016 Australian Paralympian of the Year.
Using his platform to share his experiences, the paralympic champion’s post has brought attention to the mistreatment people with disabilities face daily.
According to the Queensland government, domestic flights on Australian airlines need at least five days notice to accommodate passengers with disabilities, and can have no more than two wheelchairs on board.
In the US, the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) makes it illegal for airlines to discriminate against passengers because of their disability. It also requires airlines to provide assistance to passengers with disabilities, as well as access to wheelchairs. The Department of Transportation has created training materials to inform people with disabilities of their rights when traveling.
Every country and, in some cases, each airline has its own set of standards for accommodating passengers with disabilities. This inconsistency, advocates argue, is part of the problem.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 15% of people globally live with some form of disability. Due to aging populations, chronic diseases, and improved methodologies for measuring disability, this figure has increased since 1970s, when it was estimated at 10% of the world's population.
Despite the fact that such a significant portion of the population experiences some form of disability, Alcott and others with disabilities continue to face discrimination in a society that caters towards people without disabilities. To ensure more equitable treatment for all, race, income level, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, and their intersections must all be taken into account.
NPR reports that in the US, a person with a disability is twice as likely to be poor as someone without a disability. Communities of color experience disabilities at higher rates — at 14% among African Americans. Underscoring this, 40% of African Americans with disabilities live in poverty, as compared with 24% of white people.