Disabled Person’s Transport Committee Appointments

The DTI has announced the appointments of the Disabled Person’s Transport Committee. The press release can be found here, and is below.

Date: January 19, 2005 Time: 15:45

DISABLED PERSONS TRANSPORT ADVISORY COMMITTEE APPOINTMENTS

The Department for Transport today announced the new membership of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC).

The announcement follows the statutory review of membership at the end of 2004. The twenty members bring to the Committee a combination of experience and expertise in disability and transport.

Reflecting statutory requirements and the Government’s approach to diversity in public appointments, the new Committee has 65% of members who are disabled, 45% who are women and 20% from minority ethnic communities. They also represent a wide geographical spread.

The Committee continues to be chaired by Neil Betteridge whose appointment was not subject to this review.

Notes to Editors

1. The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) is a statutory body established under Section 125 of the Transport Act 1985 to advise the Secretary of State for Transport on matters affecting the transport needs of disabled people.

2. Membership is limited to a Chairman plus twenty members, at least half of whom must be disabled.

3. Those appointed in this round will serve for a period of three years to 31 December 2007. The remaining members, appointed in 2003, will serve until 30 June 2006 and a further review will take place early next year for those appointments.

4. All appointments are made on a personal basis, rather than on the basis of affiliations. A full list of members, with biographies is attached to this press notice.

5. DPTAC can be contacted through its Secretariat at

The Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee
Department for Transport
Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DR

Telephone : 020 7944 8011
Minicom: 020 7944 3277
Fascimilie: 020 7944 6998
Email: dptac@dft.gov.uk
Website: www.dptac.gov.uk

DfT Public Enquiries: 020 7944 8300
Department for Transport Website: http://www.dft.gov.uk

Membership of the Disabled Persons Transport Advisory Committee

* indicates new appointments made in 2004

** indicates re-appointments made in 2004

Neil Betteridge

Neil is the Acting Chief Executive at Arthritis Care. He spent many years at RADAR (Royal Association for Disability and Rehab) and is also Vice Chair of ARMA (the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance), the umbrella body for the arthritis community in the UK. He is also Vice President of (EULAR) European League Against Rheumatism. Neil has spent some years as a representative of JCMDP, the Joint Committee on Mobility for Disabled People.

Pravinkant Amin

Pravin is the Special Projects Manager in the Engineering and Transportation at the Department of Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He is the President of National Congress of Gujarati Organisations and Trustee of ASHRAM (Lambeth Asian Elderly Centre).

Ann Bates**

A member since 2002, Ann is a wheelchair user who has arthritis. She is a member of the Rail Passengers Committee working closely with train companies and the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA). She is also a non-executive member of a National Health Trust and has professional involvement with both the National Association of Teachers and Lecturers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) and the Trade Union Disability Alliance.

Sean Bolton*

Sean has Cerebral Palsy. Sean is a new member who has been involved in a number of groups looking at issues concerning access for disabled people in the built environment and transport. At 23 Sean is the youngest member of DPTAC. He is a member of Scope Bristol Management Committee.

Josephine Clairmont

Josephine, a wheelchair user, is a town councillor, and former mayor of Market Rasen. She is a Trustee of RADAR and the Lincolnshire Rural Housing Association. She has held various posts with the Disabled Drivers Motor Club since 1989, and is a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists. Josephine has been a member of DPTAC since 2003.

Lekh (Vidur) Dindayal **

Vidur is an architect who has worked on access design for over 30 years. Appointed in 2002, he is a member of the Disability Appeals Tribunal, and former member of the London Regional Passenger Committee and LTUC.

Jean Dunlop

Jean is a wheelchair user and has been a member since 1997. She is the Vice-Chair of the Scottish Accessible Information Forum and Chairperson of P.H.A.B Scotland. She is a Scottish Executive nominee. Jean is also a disability equality trainer.

David Finnegan **

David is a wheelchair user who has spent fourteen years working in the access field with Merseytravel Passenger Transport Executive. He has undertaken other disability work through the Spinal Injuries Association of which he is a Trustee and he is a member of the Access Association. He also has an interest in environmental issues. He has been a member since 2002.

Julie Giles

Julie is Managing Director of Westlands Associates Limited, and is also a freelance transport advisor. She is the former Operations Director of West Midlands Travel, where she gained extensive first hand experience of the transportation issues facing disabled passengers. She is Chair of Governors for Penn Hall Special School. In a voluntary capacity she has a wide experience of transporting and supporting disabled students at various events, this includes her 13 year old son who has Cerebral Palsy. Julie has been a member of DPTAC since 2003.

Roger Hewitt

Roger is deaf. He is Opportunities for Volunteering Projects Manager for the United Kingdom Council on Deafness, Treasurer and Trustee of the Deaf Broadcasting Council and a committee member of TAG and the Royal Shakespeare Access Advisory Group. He is also a Freelance Trainer, Researcher and Consultant for Deaf Issue. Roger has been a member of DPTAC since 2003.

Grahame Lawson

A member since 1996, Grahame has been involved in transportation for over 30 years and has had a particular interest in disability issues for 15 years. He undertook a lead role in the recent review by DPTAC of the Blue Badge Scheme. Grahame is Head of Planning and Transportation with North Lanarkshire Council and is an adviser to Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) on disability matters.

Jenny Meadows

First appointed to DPTAC in 1995, Jenny is the former Executive Director of the Community Transport Association and has a long professional and voluntary involvement in community and voluntary transport services.

Alan Norton*

Alan is a new member. He is a wheelchair user and recently took up the role of Director of the Disabled Living Centres Council. He has worked in the voluntary sector, actively engaged in disability issues for the last ten years, specialising in transport and access to the environment. He is a disability advisor for the Community Legal Services in the Northwest region.

Thomas Martin Pey **

Tom is blind. He is Director of Policy for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and a trustee of the Royal London Society for the Blind and chairs its governance committee. He is currently lead DPTAC member for taxis and private hire vehicles. He was appointed to the Committee in 2002.

Katherine Phipps*

Katherine is a new member. She is currently the Head of JMU Access Partnership, a pan-disability access consultancy service supported by RNIB. She has been working in the access field for several years at JMU, and previously at RNID. She was a member of DIEL (the Advisory Committee on Telecommunications for Disabled and Elderly People) and is also a member of BERG, the DRC led Built Environment Research Group based in Scotland. Katherine has a particular interest in the requirements of deaf and hard of hearing people stemming from her own experience of becoming severely deafened.

David Pugh **

David was a regional industrial organiser for the Transport & General Workers Union (TGWU) specialising in passenger transport and a former bus driver. He is a lay member of the Employment Tribunal Service and a member of the Disability Rights Commission Mental Health Action Group. David is the Convenor of the Mental Health and Transport Group, a trustee of the Manic Depression Fellowship and a member of Mind. David, who was first appointed in 2002, was the first DPTAC member with mental health interests.

Keith Richards **

Keith is Head of Consumer Affairs at ABTA with special responsibility for access issues. First appointed in 2002, he was a member of the DfT Air Access working group responsible for producing the Code of Practice on air travel for disabled people. Keith is also on the European Civil Aviation Conference Facilitation working group on air travel for disabled people.

Laura Smales

Laura is the “Involving Young People” Youth Worker at Surrey Council and has a keen interest in transport issues for young people. Spending a year on secondment to DPTAC as part of the Workable scheme. She is an active member of a Peer Training Project and a Millennium Fellowship Award Winner with the British Council for voluntary work within the community. She also undertook a work placement with Sheffield Children’s Hospital focusing on the psychological and social effects of long term health issues in young people. Laura campaigns for the awareness of hidden disabilities, some of which she has herself. Laura has been a member since 2003.

Kate Smyth

Kate, who was appointed in 2003, is a freelance regeneration, economic development, housing and disability advisor. She is currently undertaking various projects for Rochdale M.B.C, Tameside M.B.C, Cumbria County Council, Groundwork NW, the North West Training and Development Team which works with people with Learning Disabilities, and, Learning and Skills Council Lancashire. She is a Board Member of Calico Housing and North West Disability Arts Forum. Kate is a wheelchair user.

Carol Thomas

Carol has been involved in the access field for many years, initially working for Disability Wales, and more recently as part of JMU Access Partnership RNIB. She has been a DPTAC member since 1999, and has chaired the Education and Training Working Group for the last two years. Carol is a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Access Association, and sits on the management panel of the National Register of Access Consultants. She provides the secretariat for the Joint Committee on Mobility of Blind and Partially Sighted People. Carol represents DPTAC on the Wales Transport Forum.

Richard West

Richard is deaf and has a learning disability. He is a member of GLAD. He works with CHANGE dealing with transport issues. He helps the organisation look at information to make it more accessible for people with a learning disability, along with other bodies such as Transport for London. He has been a member since 1999 when he became DPTAC’s first member with a learning disability.

Iberia’s Press Release

Following the Iberia fiasco, over Deaf people being allowed to board a plane by themselves, and secondly without advance warning; Iberia issued the following Press Release:

Press release

Last week the media ran several features informing of an incident on an aircraft with a group of young people with hearing problems and some reports describe it as a form of discrimination. Iberia as the airline operating the flight feels that the reports have been rather one-sided and a more in depth look at the facts would have shown the incident in a different light.

We apologise to the young people and their families for any inconvenience caused but we feel we followed the correct course of action under the circumstances.

The reservation for this group was incorrectly made in 5 different bookings where the correct procedure with any group would have been to contact the airline directly.

There was no remark in any of these reservations with reference to the condition of the passengers. A mandatory requirement, which allows the airline to make provision for any special needs of our passengers. Iberia does not exclude any passenger but we do need to know of any special circumstance, which may need to be catered for.

This mistake placed Iberia in an impossible situation. When faced with an aircraft about to take off with an indeterminate number of passengers with hearing problems who had not been identified, for whom no seating arrangements had been made and for whom there was no group leader accepting responsibility. Imagine the chaos in an emergency situation during their flight where the crew is not aware that more than 20 passengers cannot hear or speak and it is not even known where they are seated or how to communicate with them?

We could have allowed them to take off in the hope that nothing would happen as many have suggested. This would certainly have been the more comfortable solution for the airline. Nevertheless, we opted for the more sensible route and asked the passengers to postpone their flight, provided them accommodation, tickets for carers, and rebooked them on a flight the next morning.

We at Iberia decided to take an unpopular and costly decision knowing we might face some criticism. However we do not compromise on safety and we expect this is something that our young passengers and their families appreciate.

This type of Press Release, and the attitude contained within it highlights the need for the DDA to cover transport, moveover to extend anticipatory duty to the DDA as a whole.

The concept of anticipatory duty in the field of disability discrimination, was introduced in the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001. This has not being extended to the rest of the DDA, but the Press Release above illustrates that there is a need for this.

‘Iberia does not exclude any passenger but we do need to know of any special circumstance, which may need to be catered for.’

a) what happened to preparation in advance, what would we do if a Deaf person became our customer, instead of panic if a Deaf person turns up; and

b) why does Iberia need to know of special circumstance? If they have
theinformation, they aren’t able to learn BSL in a week. In any case, what amounts to this being ‘special’?

Iberia’s stance fails to recognise that Deaf people can be just as much a minority language group as people who speak Welsh or Urdu – what happens when staff are unable to communicate with these people? The call for carers and a lack of group leader smacks of patronising Deaf people.

This smacks of discrimination of the highest order, and the safety excuse is a veil.

Please get the DDA extended to transport, double quick.

Iberia and Ebookers

There has been recent publicity about a group of 23 Deaf Mary Hare Grammar School students being told to leave their plane because they did not have a “carer” with them. What exactly is the legal position here?

What happened?
The group of 23 were due to go on holiday to the Canary Islands on Thursday 22 July after completing their A Levels. They got on their Iberia Airlines plane, and were told to leave by staff because they were not allowed to travel without escorts, simply because they were deaf.

Why?
Iberia Airlines defended its actions saying that it was only following regulations, although the UK Civil Aviation Authority says it has no such regulation.

ebookers.com (the travel company that the 23 booked their flight with) said: “The group were regrettably mistakenly booked by bookers to exceed airline restrictions on the number of persons with disabilities Iberia are able to carry on any one flight, without carers.”

It would appear therefore that the reason this embarrassing incident occurred is because an unamed aviation regulation states that Deaf individuals are not allowed to fly in groups. If a group of Deaf want to fly, they must have hearing carers (sic) to accompany them. Also, it is apparently the travel agent’s duty to inform the airline if a large group of Deafies are travelling with them.

What’s wrong with this?
A great deal. 23 Deaf individuals were denied their right to fly on an aeroplane simply because they are Deaf. Iberia Airlines have not stated the full authority for this decision, and indeed, the UK Civil Aviation Authority has denied that one exists.

And besides, when did Deaf people need “carers”?!

What is the legal position?
In the UK, disability discrimination is governed by the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Unfortunately, it does not extend to transport. The Disability Rights Commission’s website says:

Most services are covered by the DDA. Anyone who provides a service to the public or a section of the public is a service provider. There are a few exceptions: private clubs that have a meaningful selection process for members, transport (but only the transport vehicle, not everything else connected with it such as stations, airports and booking facilities) and education (DRC).

This means that the 23 Deaf students cannot challenge Iberia Airlines under the DDA 1995. There are no other avenues to explore.

Attitudes
The BBC report quoted that a parent of one the teenagers said: “These young people have the courage to travel despite their disability but they have been embarrassed.”

Despite their disability? How patronising is that? This reeks of the usual “Awh, poor deafies, they can’t do anything for themselves. Isn’t it sweet that they’re going off on holiday on their own after working so hard in school?”. And from a parent of a Deaf person too!

This is further evidence of why attitudes towards the Deaf community in the UK needs to change and why grass roots organisations such as the British Deaf Association and the Federation of Deaf People should be fully supported by the Deaf community at large. The FDP and BDA and other Deaf organisations should campaign to remove the transport exemption under the DDA 1995.

Useful links
Contact details for Iberia Airlines if you want to lodge a complaint about their appalling treatment of Deaf people
ebookers.com if you want a lodge a complaint with them for sucking up to Iberia Airlines
DPTAC: Access to air travel: guidance for disabled and less mobile passengers

NB. Quotes in this entry are taken from BBC News