• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Anger as deaf people banned from taking flight

Matthew Warren · 25 Sep 2011, 18:45

Published: 22 Sep 2011 10:44 GMT+02:00
Updated: 25 Sep 2011 18:45 GMT+02:00

A group of 22 holiday makers with hearing difficulties who were prevented from boarding an Air Méditerranée flight for "security reasons" will have their case reviewed by the state authority for defending human rights.

The group, including 18 deaf people, three with hearing difficulties and one person without hearing problems, had already checked in their bags for the flight from Marseille to Bodrum in Turkey when they were told they would not be allowed to board.

"Just as we were about to board, someone from the company told us we couldn't," Fabienne Guiramand, the daughter of one of the women in the group, told AFP.

"We tried to explain to the person who was liaising between us and the pilot that we were all perfectly self-reliant," said another passenger. "Apart from, perhaps, two people who can't speak, everyone was capable of talking and making themselves understood. Several were wearing hearing aids."

The airline said on Wednesday that they "regretted" the incident but there were important security reasons.

"In the procedures of Air Méditerranée, the deaf are considered persons of reduced mobility," said a spokeswoman, adding that in such a case the airline would normally assign a member of cabin crew for every five people.

The company denied it had discriminated against the group, but admitted that it had made "communication errors" and that the pilot should have spoken directly to the group. 

"It was unfortunate on our part," said the spokeswoman. "They felt they were being excluded because of their disability when, in fact, it was just for security reasons."

"There was no reason to stop them boarding," said Cédric Lorant, president of an association for the hard of hearing, Unisda (Union Nationale pour l'Insertion Sociale du Déficient Auditif).

"These are people with hearing difficulties but they are able to understand security guidelines and travel autonomously," he told AFP.

Solidarity minister Roselyne Bachelot took up the case on Wednesday, referring the matter to the state-appointed ombudsman for human rights, the Défenseur des droits.

"On an airplane, a deaf person is in the same situation as someone who doesn't speak the language of the cabin crew," she said on Wednesday. "Should we only allow people who speak English or French to board?"

The Défenseur des droits confirmed on Wednesday evening in a statement that they were examining the case and would "hold hearings if required."

twitter.com/matthew_warren

Matthew Warren (news.france@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

2011-09-23 19:49:13 by Mahhn
so small children are never allowed on the planes ? people that don't speak the same language ? how about blind people or chair ridden? What about company CEO and other stupid people? how Fing stupid, that's one airline I will never fly.
Today's headlines
'Five terror plots thwarted' on Riviera since Nice attack
A police boat patrols the waters off the beach in Nice during the summer. Photo: AFP

Authorities in Nice say five potentially deadly terror plots on the French Riviera have been foiled since the Bastille Day truck attack in the resort.

IN PICTURES
French firefighters calendar to provoke global palpitations
Photo: Fred Goudon

Warning: Some readers may suffer palpitations, sweats or other side-effects when reading this story.

Why Paris beach festival could be sand-free in future
Photo: AFP

Is a beach with no sand still a beach?

Lost without translation: The struggles of Calais migrants
Communication problems in the Calais jungle camp. Photo: AFP

So many languages are spoken in the Calais jungle migrant camp but French is rarely heard.

Paris finally bows to the importance of Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde's tomb in Pere Lachaise cemetery, which now has a glass screen protecting it. Photo: AFP

It's taken a while but the French capital is finally paying tribute to the importance of the writer who died in a Paris hotel.

French towns divided over taking in Calais migrants
Photo: AFP

Towns across France are arguing over whether to take in migrants soon to be evacuated from the Calais "jungle" camp.

Paris region eyes up cable cars to unclog traffic jams
Could something like this be the future of transport in Paris? Photo: AFP

Did you know there are 12 cable car projects around the Paris region? Better than the RER trains surely?

Dos and don'ts to help you cope with writing in French

Writing emails in French is a whole new challenge that requires a whole new set of tips.

French writing phrases you can't get your head around
Photo: Ray Sadler/Flickr

"Je vous prie de bien vouloir...." What?

Paris banking district stages France's latest mock attack
Photo: AFP

The La Defense business district in Paris was the scene of the latest mock terror attack last night, as French authorities continue to take no chances.

Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Culture
The crazy French writing phrases you can't get your head around
Features
Room for improvement: Paris's matchbox apartments
'Stop telling immigrants to be French and help it happen'
Society
Take the test: How far have you assimilated into French culture?
Lifestyle
Eleven things you should know before moving to Paris
National
France's Marion Cotillard rebuffs rumours of fling with Brad Pitt
National
Eight arrested over links to Nice truck attacker
Features
Why everyone should party in a French chateau at least once
Travel
The Frenchman who hated 'Nazi-Zealand' after four-day hitch-hike fail
Culture
What's on: Ten exciting events across France in September
The 45-million year old underground shells that flavour Champagne
Features
French job speak: All the terms you need to know
'Resilient' Paris now a more appealing city than New York
National
France says it's OK to warn drivers about speed cameras
Meet Honorine, 113, the oldest person in France
Education
Grenoble named France's best city to be a student
Society
New Metro map reveals cheapest pints of beer in Paris
Business & Money
How reliant is the French economy on Paris?
Society
Here's why Parisians want to move to Bordeaux
And the 'best place to spend a weekend in Europe' is… Lyon
Analysis & Opinion
'Muslims in France must be considered ordinary citizens'
Armed guards to ride French trains from October
National
France among Europe's priciest for train travel
2,732
jobs available