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Government Accountability Office (GAO) Report on Disability-Training Programs

The FAA Extension, Safety and Security Act of 2016 requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to submit to Congress a report assessing airline personnel and contractor training programs to assist persons with disabilities.  The Act also requires, based on the findings of the GAO report, the Department of Transportation (Department) to develop, make publicly available, and appropriately disseminate to airlines best practices that the Secretary considers necessary to improve the reviewed training programs. 

On May 31, 2017, the GAO issued a report (GAO-17-541R) that analyzed the disability training programs of 12 airlines, which account for approximately 75 percent of U.S. passenger enplanements.  The GAO found that all of the reviewed airlines have initial and recurrent disability training in place for their employees and contractors who interface with passengers with disabilities, some airlines voluntarily implement quality assurance programs to improve their disability training programs’ performance, and some airlines have established disability boards to increase awareness among employees about disability issues.  The GAO also reviewed the Department of Transportation’s oversight of airlines’ disability training programs and found that the Department uses a variety of oversight methods to ensure airlines comply with the Air Carrier Access Act and the Department’s implementing disability regulations including analyzing passengers’ complaint data, conducting compliance inspections, and pursuing enforcement actions.   The GAO report did not contain any recommendations to the Department. 

The Department has available disability training and informational materials that can be used to supplement the training and education of airline employees and contractors at: and has determined that it is not necessary to issue a best practices document based on the GAO’s findings in its report. 

Last updated: Tuesday, September 12, 2017