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April 24, 2024

House Approves Bill to Improve Airport Accessibility for Coloradans with Disabilities

DENVER, CO – The House today passed legislation to improve accessibility at Colorado’s airports by increasing the number of accessible restrooms and walkways, including the voices of Coloradans with disabilities when redesigning large hub airports, and requiring reporting for non-compliance. HB24-1452, sponsored by Representative David Ortiz and Assistant Majority Leader Jennifer Bacon, passed by a vote of 43-18.

“Basic access in airports means that Coloradans with disabilities have a right to air travel safely and with dignity, but unfortunately that has not always been the case,” said Rep. David Ortiz, D-Centennial. “From broken wheelchairs to inaccessible restrooms, the disability community faces many barriers to air travel, which can have negative consequences on our health, economic opportunity, and in some cases cost us our lives. This bill gives community living with a disability a seat at the table to advocate for changes so Colorado can serve as a model for accessibility in airports across the world.”

“The federal bipartisan infrastructure law has granted historic funding to improve airport infrastructure, and our bill ensures some of that money is used to meet accessibility standards that are required under the law,” said Assistant Majority Leader Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver. “The requests that the disability community has made to our airports are not unreasonable - they are essential for the health and safety of our fellow Coloradans. With this legislation, we’re following through with the rights guaranteed under the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure that Coloradans with disabilities have dignity in air travel.”

HB24-1452 would require large hub airports to ensure accessibility for travelers living with disabilities, as well as establish specific duties and deadlines for compliance. The bill requires large hub airports in Colorado to:

  • Establish an advisory committee composed of people with various disabilities to provide input during airport renovations to ensure basic access and equity in air travel;

  • Consult with the disability community and advisory committee during the construction of walkways and other airport facilities;

  • Incorporate wayfinding technology for blind or visually-impaired travelers;

  • Create, maintain, and update a dashboard to report and track basic access shortcomings and violations during the travel process, including a public inquiry form that allows an individual to directly report accessibility issues;

  • Develop and provide comprehensive training programs for direct airport staff on proper handling of equipment like wheelchairs, walkers, medical equipment, and adaptive sports equipment;

  • Provide at least one accessible public restroom per terminal, in addition to companion care changing tables;

  • Use elevators to transport power wheelchairs from the tarmac to the jetway and give elevator priority to these individuals.

Additionally, HB24-1452 would create a pathway for civil lawsuits against large hub airports for damages resulting from violations of their legal responsibilities. 

From complex terminal layouts to long distances between gates, passengers with disabilities face infrastructure, information, and customer service barriers at airports throughout the United States.

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