Chucked off a plane cos Deaf

There has been recent publicity about a group of 23 d/Deaf Mary Hare Grammar School students being told to leave their plane because they did not have a “carer” with them. What the hell is going on?!

The group of 23 were due to go on holiday to the Canary Islands last Thursday 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 d/Deaf.

Iberia Airlines defended its actions saying that it was only following regulations, although the UK Civil Aviation Authority says it has no such regulation. (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 d/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 d/Deafies are travelling with them.

So, basically 23 d/Deaf individuals were denied their right to fly on an aeroplane simply because they are d/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 d/Deaf people need “carers”?!

Despite all that, this is what infuriated me the most. The BBC report also 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 d/Deaf person too! That parent should hang their head in shame or at least wake up and smell the coffee! Do they really think that their child is deserving of such a patronising attitude?

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 BDA and the FDP should be fully supported by the Deaf community at large.

Oh what happened to those kids in the end? They flew off happily to the Canary Islands after being put up for one night in a hotel. But get this… they were only able to go cos two hearing people accompanied them. ARGH!

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