United Airlines Destroyed a Wheelchair. The Person Who Relied on It Died Shortly After.

In October, a brilliant disability rights activist Engracia Figueroa passed away as a result of medical complications after United Airlines destroyed her wheelchair. She could still be here with us today, but United Airlines forced her to fly without her chair, damaged it in the process of shipping it as cargo, and disputed the need to replace it for months. To put this in context, consider it this way: for many disabled people, including Engracia, specialized equipment like wheelchairs are as vital to them as a limb or an organ. United's actions destroyed a piece of Engracia, and it cost her her life. 

Sign now to demand that United Airlines immediately update their policies to protect disabled people instead of continuing to risk their lives! 

Engracia's wheelchair was vital to her health and independence. This chair was customized to meet her specific needs, including supporting her spinal cord injury and left leg amputation. Yet instead of simply replacing the wheelchair that it was responsible for breaking, United cruelly spent months insisting they would repair it rather than replace it altogether. During this time, United gave Engracia a loaner chair that measurably worsened her health. 

Unfortunately, airlines using practices that are discriminatory towards disabled people is not new. Not long ago, a Washington Post investigation revealed that airlines lose or damage about 29 mobility aids every single day. To put that in perspective, that's over 10,000 of these essential and live-changing tools per year. In many of these cases, airlines either outright refuse to pay people back for damages to their wheelchairs or take months to agree to financial compensation, leading people to experience long and often painful periods without their wheelchairs. Crucially, for many disabled people, these wheelchairs are not simple objects, but rather an extension of their body.

Speciality wheelchairs often cost tens of thousands of dollars, and are vital parts of disabled peoples' livelihoods and independence. We must tell United Airlines that this discrimination against disabled people is unacceptable. The company must immediately change their policies to include better training for staff and increasing accommodations for wheelchairs on flights themselves! Sign if you agree, disability rights are not optional!

*photo taken from Engracia's personal Facebook account*
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