Staff training for working with passengers with disability – guidance material

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A key to airline and airport operators working successfully with passengers with disability and additional needs is the level of appropriate training staff receive in order to provide appropriate assistance to these passengers. Particular emphasis should be put into training for staff whose duties directly involve working with passengers with disability and additional needs. The following is a list of suggested training areas for these staff:

  • awareness of the options available to support passengers with disability when moving around a terminal and travelling on an aircraft;
  • awareness of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002, the implications of these for day-to-day operations, and how these interact with aviation safety and security regulations and requirements;
  • the types of special assistance offered by airlines and airports;
  • guidance in relation to appropriate communication methods and language to be used by staff when communicating with passengers that require additional assistance;
  • how you may be able to assist a person with disability, noting each person's needs may differ;
  • awareness by staff that they may be required to assist a person who:
    • is blind or has a vision impairment; o is deaf or has a hearing impairment; o has a physical disability;
    • has a non-visible or intellectual disability;
    • has a medical condition that requires carry-on medical equipment;
    • is travelling with an assistance animal; or
    • is travelling with a carer.
  • providing appropriate assistance at check-in, boarding, on-board the aircraft and disembarkation;
  • how to identify an assistance animal and what procedures should be followed;
  • airline policy in relation to mobility aids as checked and carry-on luggage;
  • wheelchair and manual handling etiquette and the appropriate handling of mobility aids;
  • dealing with unexpected circumstances and emergency situations; and
  • international compliance information (Australia's requirement to meet international standards and specific details at relevant overseas locations).

These are suggested topics only. Airlines and airports are responsible for determining the content of the training provided to their staff. Topics may vary between airlines and airports due to the nature of services they provide and safety and operational constraints. Training topics and the level of training are also likely to differ depending on the role of the staff member (e.g. cabin crew, ground staff etc.).

Operators may choose to communicate in their Disability Access Facilitation Plans, the level and scope of training provided to staff and the types of information passengers with disability can provide to support staff to assist them when travelling.