EAST HANOVER, N.J.-Just a few days ago, East Hanover Teenager and Hanover Park High School Senior Victoria Rossi came to social media with a Change.org Petition. The Petition calls on airlines to supply handicap persons with proper seating and arrangements while they are on board the flights. Victoria explains how she came to this conculsion below and best describes why she needs you to sign her petition today.- Matthew Cardoso TAPinto East Hanover/Florham Park Writer

The Petition is linked here

To United Airlines and all other national and international airline companies:

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My name is Victoria Rossi. I am 18 years old and live in New Jersey. When I was less than a year old, I was diagnosed with congenital muscular dystrophy, which has led me to live in a wheelchair. Having a disability can be frustrating. It comes with its ups and downs. The last thing a disabled person wants to feel like is powerless. To replace this feeling, we try to lead a normal life and act just like any other teenager. One way I act like any other teenage girl is traveling. As an early graduation present, my parents took me to Las Vegas. Like anybody else, I was thrilled to take off and see the glamour of the city. But first, I had to deal with leaving New Jersey and flying across the country. Most kids with muscular dystrophy have secondary medical conditions which require a lot of necessary medical equipment. I would not be able to travel without this equipment, which means I have a lot of carry-ons. Between me and my parents, there were 3 suitcases and 12 carry-ons. The packing process seems exhausting already, but this is just scratching the surface.

My muscular dystrophy and scoliosis cause me to have a hard time keeping my posture. Because of this, I cannot sit in a regular airplane seat. Instead, I have to sit in a toddler car seat. As juvenile as it may seem, it is the only thing that supports my back and head. It has to be strapped down to the airplane seat. Once I am in my car seat, I have to sit in it from the start of boarding to after everyone else gets off the plane. To add to this, the airline company struggled to load my wheelchair into the “belly” of the plane. My mom had to explain how to maneuver my chair and eventually had to go to the belly of the plane and help the cargo loaders. They eventually had to tilt my chair sideways and leave it in the plane that way. This delayed my flight by almost an hour. If major turbulence happened during the flight and my chair fell over, it could have been damaged, and then I would not be able to move around or function on vacation. These inconveniences can be even worse for other disabled people. I was in an uncomfortable car seat for almost 8 hours, leaving my body in physical and emotional trauma. Some families may not be able to afford or use a car seat and will have to sit their child or sibling in their lap. This can also be very exhausting for a disabled person and for the person that is supporting them. For these reasons and more, wheelchair accessibility should be considered for airplanes. Although it would mean the removal of a couple of seats, it would be much more efficient for people in wheelchairs to have them simply roll from the gate to the plane in their chair than to have them transferred from their chair to a different and uncomfortable seat. All that you need to do is remove some seats and add wheelchair tie downs. You can find these in other accessible vehicles such as minivans and buses. Now, before you close this letter, let me explain why it would be easier to have accessible airplanes.

First and foremost, this would allow the maximum amount of comfort for those in wheelchairs. Most wheelchairs have footrests and a recline or tilt function. Airplane seats do not have all of these features. This would also most likely take away some carry-ons and create smoother transitions during the travel process. Disabled people want nothing more than normal life, and an easier travel day can add to this.

Traveling is stressful enough for people who are able, so please consider handicap children, teenagers, and adults when creating new airplane models. Have handicapped people roam freely. I thank you in advance for considering this adaptation.


                                     Victoria Rossi