Communication via Technology

Like me, many of you spend an insurmountable amount of hours on airplanes so you know the drill for take-off and landing, power down your cell phones, pda’s and other electronics, buckle up, seatbacks in their upright position and stowage of your carry-on items. Even with all those rules, the one thing you are allowed to do without restriction is talk with other #travelers or maybe not.

If your sole means of #communication was via #technology, such as an #iPad, you would also be restricted from talking on takeoff and landing. At least this is what happened to a 17 year old girl with Autism who was traveling on an #American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Toronto accompanied by her aide and whose only means of communication is via her iPad. Although the aide explained that this was the girl’s communication device, she was told that it was #airline policy and that she had never heard of such a need before. Although the plane’s captain finally intervened to allow the device to remain out, it had to be placed in front of the girl’s seat where it was out of her reach, meaning no access to communication.

The airline has upheld the in-flight decision stating that it was in full compliance with the U.S. Department of Transportation (#DOT) regulations on #accommodations for customers with #disabilities. I blogged the other day about the dilemma employers are facing with requests for #assistive technology that now has multiple applications on one device from fun to function. This story is really just another component of that. If exceptions can be made for the use of electronics such as hearing aids or pacemakers, shouldn’t someone consider making such exceptions for assistive and communication devices? So what do you think the #FAA should do about this?


This information should not be construed as “legal advice” for a particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended only to be a practical guide for participants familiar with this subject. Users should seek appropriate legal advice tailored to address their specific situation.