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Easterseals aims to make air travel more accessible to people with disabilities

Easterseals launches new campaign to make air travel more accessible to people with disabilities
Easterseals launches new campaign to make air travel more accessible to people with disabilities 02:26

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- With the holiday travel season underway, Easterseals is launching a new campaign with the hopes of making air travel more accessible to people with disabilities.

For people who are blind or in wheelchairs, navigating air travel is described as a nightmare. Easterseals said it's time for that to change.

Air travel with Will Dunham, who uses a wheelchair, is a big challenge for his parents, who live in Feasterville.

"It's like a moving circus," Will's father Chris Dunham said. "It's quite an adventure going through security."

Then on the plane, Will has to be moved to a transfer chair and placed in a seat.

"It's usually a mess. He flails his arms and kicks," Chris Dunham said. "So, it's tough getting down the aisle."

His wheelchair has to be checked, and the family constantly worries this won't happen.

A viral TikTok video shows a wheelchair being mishandled by a baggage handler and crashing off the plane. This is part of a new Easterseals nationwide campaign to make air travel more accessible for the 61 million Americans who identify as being disabled.

"Just training airline personnel on how to handle carefully someone's wheelchair," Easterseals president and CEO Kendra Davenport said. "And maybe taking steps to make sure those wheelchairs aren't damaged anymore would be a step in the right direction."

Watch the extended interview with Easterseals president & CEO Kendra Davenport:

Easterseals president explains how and why air travel is difficult for disabled Americans 11:30

Davenport said accessibility improvements for air travel are long overdue.

"I've never been on a flight that had an accessible restroom," Davenport said.

The Department of Transportation said it's doing a number of things to improve air travel for people who are disabled, including making accessible lavatories on new single aisle aircraft, and it's possible passengers would eventually be allowed to stay in their wheelchairs on flights.

"If air travel is made accessible," Davenport said, "and more of the 61 million Americans can travel, that's only going to be good for business. t's going to sell more tickets."

The Dunham family said making air travel easier would be a welcome relief.

"Anything that they do would almost assuredly be appreciated by everybody," Chris Dunham said.

Disability advocates said trains, buses and cruise ships are much more accessible and they hope air travel catches up soon.

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