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Inspired by Minnesotan, Phillips Amendment to Expand Access to Universal Changing Tables Set to Become Law in FAA Reauthorization

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Dean Phillips voted to pass the bipartisan, bicameral Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2024. The bill will be signed into law by President Biden and includes an amendment authored by Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) aimed at making travel more accessible for disabled Americans and their caretakers by requiring all medium and large airports to install and maintain universal changing stations in passenger terminal buildings to be eligible for Airport Improvement Program grants. The amendment was inspired by Minnesotan Linda Hood, who brought the idea to Phillips’s attention after becoming paralyzed in 2018 from Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS), a rare autoimmune disease. The universal changing station amendment was led by Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) in the Senate and has been endorsed by Cure Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) and Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA). 

“People living with disabilities and their caregivers deserve peace of mind knowing they have access to the equipment they need to travel safely and with dignity,” said Rep. Phillips. “I’m grateful to extraordinary advocates like Linda for sharing their stories and fighting to make our nation more inclusive and accessible. I commend Senator Hassan for leading this amendment in the Senate, and I’m pleased to see such important legislation signed into law.” 

These changing stations allow for clean, accessible, and private use of public restrooms for people living with disabilities. Without them, caregivers are forced to change some individuals on restroom floors, and some individuals are unable to use the restroom while traveling. After having an accessibility bill signed into law in Minnesota at the state level, Linda Hood started meeting with Members of Congress, many of whom wanted to help, but couldn’t find an avenue. After hearing her story and inspiring advocacy, Rep. Phillips was able to find a way through the FAA to support Linda’s ongoing efforts to make bathrooms more accessible for all.

 “If I had to change while traveling, I would have to do it on the airport bathroom floor. In this day and age, that didn’t make sense,” said Hood. “I told myself, I’m going to do something about this. That’s why my slogan is “no more changing on the floor”, and I’m going to continue to be an advocate until changing stations are in buildings all over the world.”

“The universal changing station provision in the FAA legislation will ensure that airports finally have at least one truly accessible bathroom that individuals with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and other disabilities can use, regardless of age. Cure SMA and the SMA community thank Representative Phillips for securing this important provision, which–-along with other key disability sections–-will greatly improve the air travel experience for passengers with SMA and other disabilities,” said Maynard Friesz, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy for Cure SMA, the national organization that represents children and adults with SMA, a neuromuscular disease that causes debilitating muscle and motor function loss.