DOT CONSIDERS NEGOTIATED RULEMAKING FOR PASSENGERS WITH DISABILITIES

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced the hiring of a neutral convenor, Richard Parker of the University of Connecticut School of Law, to evaluate a negotiated rulemaking that would develop additional requirements to ensure that passengers with disabilities enjoy equal access in the air transportation system.  The additional requirements might include issues that the Department deferred final action on in its 2008 final rule and also account for developments since 2008.  The Department specifically noted several areas that the negotiated rulemaking will consider including:

  • Ensuring that in-flight entertainment is accessible to passengers with disabilities
  • Increasing access for passengers dependent on in-flight medical oxygen
  • Clarifying the definition of a service animal
  • Ensuring that passengers wishing to travel with pets cannot falsely claim that they are service animals
  • Evaluating whether premium economy is a different class of service for disability rule purposes

Under a negotiated rulemaking, a neutral convenor assists an agency to determine the scope of issues appropriate for a rulemaking process.  If the Department decides to proceed, it then invites interested parties likely to be affected to work with the agency on an advisory committee to help form a consensus on the appropriate rule.  The Department noted that interested parties might include advocacy groups and organizations, airlines, airports, manufacturers, service animal training organizations and more.  If consensus is reached, the Department can then issue a proposed rule for public comment under routine rulemaking procedures.

If you have any questions, please contact Evelyn Sahr (esahr@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6622), Drew Derco (dderco@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6665), or Reese Davidson (rdavidson@eckertseamans.com, 202-659-6633).

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