Charity seeks to create ‘disability allies’ in the aviation industry


UK-based disability charity, the Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People (QEF), has launched an online and instructor-led Disability Equality Training course aimed at the global aviation industry. The course aims to ensure that as the aviation sector rebuilds post-Covid, equality for disabled people will be at the heart of the industry.

The online course encourages attendees to participate and makes good use of exploratory discussions, videos, chat, online polls and recent news events, including Covid-19 topics. The aim is to increase understanding of disabled people, their rights, compliance with accessible aviation laws, and solutions to remove and prevent barriers to equality in flying.

QEF recognises the increasing industry focus on accessibility, such as IATA’s Resolution on Passengers with Disabilities, and its second Global Accessibility Symposium (taking place on 27-28 October 2020), and the UK Civil Aviation Authority’s annual assessment of airports in terms of their performance on accessibility for disabled passengers. However, the foundation says that figures show there is still work to be done.

Over a billion people – about 15% of the world’s population – have some form of disability according to the WHO, and with a doubling of passengers using assistance since 2014, the number of passengers with disabilities is set to increase significantly as populations expand and grow older, so they are an important passenger segment in the post-Covid-19 industry recovery.

QEF is the only organisation to offer disabled people a Tryb4uFly assessment that enables people to experience what air travel would be like with their specific requirements and what can be done to support them.

QEF’s head of accessible aviation, Graham Race, was recently awarded an MBE in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to overcoming disability barriers in aviation. He has worked closely with Mary Doyle; accessible aviation consultant, executive coach, Modern Classroom Certified Trainer and one of Britain’s most influential disabled people on the DisabilityPower 100 list in 2018 and 2020, to develop the first Disability Equality Training course specifically for the aviation sector.

This course builds on QEF’s expertise in supporting thousands of disabled people to feel confident about air travel and Race and Doyle’s lived experiences of travelling with and as a disabled person. The course is delivered by a disabled person and trainer and has been developed with insight and experience of the issues people face, as well as an understanding of the specific challenges faced by the sector.

QEF’s Disability Equality Training course is specifically aimed at staff in the aviation sector and will support airlines and airports to comply with regulations EC 1107/2006, 14 CFR Part 382 and SOR/94-42. The course provides a foundation from which aviation organisations can build and improve the experiences of their disabled customers.  The charity’s aim is to make every person who completes the course a disability ally and to build a more inclusive world.

QEF’s Accessible Aviation team are also developing a supplementary e-learning module, designed to help to make accessibility a core part of annual aviation staff training programmes.

Graham Race stated, “Accessing air travel has been challenging for disabled people for many years, and whilst progress has been made, there is still a long way to go to make it equal for everybody. It’s hard to explain to someone that doesn’t live with disabilities how daunting the process can be; from knowing what vital equipment and medication you are able to bring with you, to going through security at the airport, possibly having to give up your wheelchair to board the plane – which for many people is like losing your legs – and having to be transferred to a seat on the plane which then isn’t designed to support you.

“This training course aims to shine a light on these and other barriers to equality and give people the knowledge and tools to make a difference in their everyday jobs. We want to create disability allies throughout the aviation sector.”

Mary Doyle added, “I’m delighted to co-create this training solution with QEF, who are experts in accessible aviation, the customer journey and disability. We intend to empower our aviation colleagues with a deeper understanding around disability equality and the direct actions to improve inclusion to ensure passenger confidence. And for everyone attending to have an enjoyable, highly topical and long-lasting learning experience.”

More information on QEF’s Disability Equality Training for Aviation can be found HERE.

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Ever since his first flight on a TriStar, Adam has loved air travel, and since becoming editor of the Aircraft Interiors International brand he has really enjoyed the opportunity to be involved with the latest aircraft and airline products before they are even launched. Adam co-ordinates the running of the magazine, from commissioning articles and artwork, to ensuring that high standards of quality are maintained, as well as managing online content. Adam is proud to sit on the jury of the Crystal Cabin Awards and to have laid on the bed in Etihad's Residence.

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