Mobility aids and assistive devices

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Transporting your mobility aid

ASL version of this chapter
 

Your carrier is required to transport your mobility aid except in the following circumstances:

  • if the weight of your mobility aid exceeds the capacity of the device used for boarding mobility aids. This could also happen if you need to remain in your mobility aid during boarding, for example when boarding a train or bus.
  • if your mobility aid does not fit on the transportation equipment (for example, in the baggage compartment). If that happens, the carrier must tell you about alternative trips to your destination which can accommodate your mobility aid and offer to book this at the lesser of the fare for your original trip and the fare for the alternative trip. You can find information on the maximum weight and dimensions of mobility aids that a carrier can transport on its website.
  • if you are travelling by air and transporting your mobility aid would jeopardize the safe operation of the airplane.

You should be aware that your carrier may ask you to provide written instructions for the disassembly/reassembly of your mobility aid if this is needed in order to store your aid during travel.

When you plan your trip, ask the following questions:

  • Do I have to store my mobility aid during travel and, if so, when do I have to transfer out of my aid (at check-in or at the boarding gate/platform)?
  • Can mobility aids be stored on board, or must they be carried in cargo/baggage compartments? Be prepared to provide the weight and measurements of your mobility aid.
  • Is there an on-board wheelchair?
  • Can the on-board wheelchair get in and out of the washroom?
  • Which seats will be the most accessible for me (for example: seats with moveable armrests that facilitate transferring to/from an on-board wheelchair)?

Note: Ask your carrier whether you can remain in your mobility aid during travel. Ferries are generally large enough for this purpose, while new or modified trains and buses (with some exceptions) are required to have spaces for this purpose. If this is not possible, you may want to ask where your mobility aid will be stored during travel. A train, and each deck of a ferry, must be able to store at least

Common assistive devices include a cane, crutches, a communication device (for example, a speech-generating device which translates typed messages into digitized speech), an orthotic positioning device (used to support and position a person who has postural problems), and a portable oxygen concentrator. If you need to use an assistive device while on board, your carrier is required to allow you to do this provided it is safe to do so. You should provide your reservation agent with information about your device, including whether it uses batteries or needs an onboard power supply. You may be asked to provide information or documents, including a medical certificate, regarding your use of the assistive device.

Note: Airlines have rules about the onboard use of oxygen. You can find information on their policies, including whether they provide an oxygen service or require the use of a portable oxygen concentrator instead.

Mobility aids at the terminal

ASL version of this chapter
 

If you use a power wheelchair or other large mobility aid, your carrier will usually need time to prepare it for the trip. This means that somewhere between check-in and boarding, you may need to transfer to a boarding wheelchair. However, your carrier is required to allow you to keep your mobility aid until it becomes necessary to store it and if you use a manual, folding wheelchair, your carrier will generally allow you to remain in it until boarding. Your carrier may have asked you to provide written instructions for the disassembly and reassembly of your mobility aid, but you may want to ask how your mobility aid will be secured and stored.

Security screening

ASL version of this chapter

Coming soon

 

If you are travelling with an assistive device, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) must make every reasonable effort to carry out the screening simultaneously with the screening of the assistive device. Also, if CATSA removes your assistive device for separate screening, it must immediately return it to you after it has been screened. If your mobility aid is removed for separate screening, CATSA must offer you a chair while your aid is being screened.

Note: CATSA provides useful information for travellers with disabilities about the screening process on its website, including information for planning a trip and what to expect at screening checkpoints. You may want to consult the CATSA website prior to travel to familiarize yourself with the screening process.

Boarding

ASL version of this chapter

Coming soon

 

Your carrier can provide you with assistance with boarding and, if you are travelling on a ferry, help you in moving from a vehicle deck to a passenger deck.

Your carrier is required to allow you to board in advance of other passengers if you have asked for help with boarding, locating your seat or cabin, transferring between a mobility aid and your seat, or storing carry-on luggage.

Note: If you ask for this type of assistance, your carrier may require you to board before the other passengers or, if you arrive at the boarding area after the end of priority boarding, to board after the other passengers.

On-board

On-board wheelchairs and access to washrooms

ASL version of this chapter
 

On-board crew on trains and ferries, and on airplanes which have sufficiently wide aisles, can assist you to go between your seat and the washroom using an on-board wheelchair, including by assisting in your transfer between your seat and the on-board wheelchair. On an airplane, you can use the washroom that has the most space, regardless of where it is located, if you need an on-board wheelchair or the help of a support person or service dog to use the washroom. On-board crew are not required to assist a passenger inside a washroom.

Disembarking

ASL version of this chapter
 

If your journey has ended, upon your request, your carrier is required to help you disembark from the aircraft, train, bus or ferry, retrieve your checked baggage, proceed to the general public area, and proceed to a location where you can receive assistance to get to the curbside zone. If you are continuing your journey, upon your request, your carrier is required to assist you in getting to a location where you can receive help from your connecting carrier.

Retrieving your mobility aid

ASL version of this chapter
 

Your mobility aid should be returned to you at your destination in the same condition as when you checked it in, however, damage can occur. If this is the case, having photos of your mobility aid can help establish that the damage happened while your aid was in the carrier’s possession. It is recommended that you take two sets of photos: the first, just before giving your mobility aid to your carrier for transportation; and the second, of the damage to your mobility aid. The two sets of photos can then be compared, which can show the nature and location of the damage. Before leaving the terminal, be sure to complete a damage claim and provide it to your carrier.

If your mobility aid is damaged, destroyed, lost or not returned to you within the usual time frame after you reach your destination, depending on the circumstances, your carrier must:

  • provide you with a temporary replacement aid that meets your needs
  • reimburse you for expenses you incurred as a result;
  • arrange for the repair of your mobility or, if this is not possible, provide a suitable replacement or reimburse you for the full replacement cost; or
  • if your mobility aid has been destroyed or lost, provide a suitable replacement or reimburse you for the full replacement cost.

Note: if you are travelling on an international flight, your airline is required to tell you about the option of completing a special declaration of interest, which is a document designed to protect the value of a traveller's mobility aid. A traveller states the monetary value of their mobility aid and provides a description of its identifying features in the special declaration.

A special declaration of interest is important because, without it, carriers' limits of liability for mobility aids carried on international flights are capped at a level far less than the value of most aids. This means that, if a mobility aid is lost, damaged or destroyed and the traveller has not completed a special declaration of interest, they may only be entitled to reimbursement for a portion of the value of the mobility aid.

Airlines that operate international flights are required to publish a notice on their websites about the option of completing a special declaration of interest.

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