Accessible travel in the context of COVID-19
The CTA's vision is to make Canada's national transportation system the most accessible in the world. This vision guides our work, including during this global pandemic.
COVID-19 has caused major impacts on travel. As operations gradually resume, it is important to ensure that accessibility considerations are fully taken into account in the planning and changes to services.
Here are some tips for transportation service providers and persons with disabilities to keep in mind during these challenging times.
Transportation service providers
When offering travel services to persons with disabilities, transportation service providers must:
- Meet their obligations under Part V of the Canada Transportation Act to identify, remove barriers and prevent new barriers to the access of persons with disabilities to the federal transportation network;
- Comply with applicable provisions of the new Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations Footnote 1; and
- Take steps to ensure the needs of persons with disabilities are met. For example
- The need for personnel to wear masks might negatively impact communication with some passengers. They should make alternative methods of communication available, such as pre-printed signs to convey standardized information, and pen and paper.
In addition, transportation service providers are encouraged to:
- Provide up to date information on their website about what to expect when travelling, including COVID-19 related measures; and
- Have a comprehensive plan for services that may involve close proximity, physical contact or touching a passenger's personal belongings to ensure the safety of both staff and passengers (e.g. baggage assistance, wheelchair transfers, and handling mobility aids).
Persons with disabilities
A few simple preparations will make your travel easier and more enjoyable. When traveling, you are encouraged to:
- Plan ahead. Notify your transportation service provider of your needs and any services you might require ahead of time (at least 48 hours);
- When notifying your provider, ask them to advise you of the COVID-19 related measures and protocols they are following as these might have an impact on the services you require;
- If possible, check in online in advance of arrival to avoid touching kiosks or interacting with more personnel than necessary;
- If you have particular communication needs, you might wish to bring your own pen and paper or alternative communication system; and
- Ask in advance how personnel will be handling services that may require physical contact such as guiding or wheelchair transfers, or touching your personal items such as baggage or mobility aids.
Guidance from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC)
The NRC, with the support of the CTA and Transport Canada, has developed expert guidance that sets out best practices for transportation service providers and travel tips for persons with disabilities during COVID-19.
The NRC developed this guidance with the input of persons with disabilities and transportation service providers.
The guidance, Best Practices for Accessible Travel in the Context of COVID-19, covers best practices relating to:
- physical distancing and navigation;
- mask use;
- sanitization and hand washing; and
- communicating information
For more information on the pandemic consult the Government of Canada's Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update.