Seventeen-year-old girl petitions airlines for wheelchair accessibility


Sally O’Neill is a 17-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, and all she wants when she flies is to be able to remain in her own wheelchair. Sally is circulating a petition calling on the airline industry to modify the first seat in the first row to allow passengers with disabilities using wheelchairs to remain in their own wheelchairs during flight.

“After consulting with numerous professionals with disabilities having expertise in accessibility and safety standards, we determined that the ‘O’Neill petition’ was an important initiative to support,” said Brandon M. Macsata, executive director of the Association for Airline Passenger Rights. “Forcing people with disabilities to travel using non-disabled standards when safe alternatives are available is not consistent with the principles laid out in the ADA [Americans Disability Act].”

Macsata further stated, “This petition asks that the first seat in the first row of the airplane be removable with the capability to have tie-downs inserted when needed to accommodate a wheelchair or that the airlines develop a solution to this urgent need. Modifying 1-2 seats per airplane represents an investment to further improve air travel for passengers with disabilities – especially people with cerebral palsy.”

To learn more about the O’Neill petition, please contact UCP Family Support, 11731 NE Glenn Widing Drive, Portland, Oregon 97220, or call 503-777-4166 x.232. For more information about the Association for Airline Passenger Rights, please visit or contact AAPR directly at