A network to share best practices for children with special needs
This story came to me through email recently and I felt compelled to share. Seems there was an incident aboard an airline flight recently where a teen was asked to turn off her iPad during takeoff. This was not your typical teen however. She is 17 year old Carly Fleischmann and she has autism. Carly is non- verbal, but has been using technology (first a computer, now also an iPad) to communicate. Her remarkable story of her rise from frustration and isolation to one of interaction through technology is told by Carly and her father in the book entitled Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism. She has been on a media blitz these days giving a voice to all those on the spectrum including guest appearances on Ellen, The Talk as well as news interviews. And so returning from Los Angeles to her home in Toronto on August 10th, she boarded her flight only to be told to turn off the sole device that allows her to communicate. You can read more about the incident and the resulting reverberations through the media and airline industry here. Carly brings to the forefront a very interesting dilemma. Are smart tablets becoming so critical for some individuals with disabilities that they should be considered a reasonable accommodation…such as allowing a service dog or using a wheelchair for transport? Right now, there are strict FAA regulations prohibiting the use of electronic devices during takeoff and landing so the flight attendant in question was most likely following protocol. Yet the ACAA the Air Carrier Access Act “prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in air travel by requiring U. S. airlines and airlines providing flights to and from the United States to offer accessible facilities, reasonable accommodations and other services to passengers with disabilities.” This will be an interesting story to follow in the coming months. In the meantime let us know what you think about this unfolding controversy.