In the interest of safety on a recent American Airlines flight, an attendant required a non-verbal teenager to put away the iPad she relies upon to speak.
News of the incident – and the irony – has created an uproar on the internet and considerable acrimony over the airline’s policies.
Carly Fleischmann, a 17-year-old with autism from Toronto, lambasted American Airlines on her Facebook page earlier this week.
“On her way home from Los Angeles last Friday, Fleischmann said that a flight attendant told her to put away the tablet for takeoff and landing and was unwilling to bend even after Fleischmann’s aide explained that it was a communication device,” reports DisabilityScoop ,
“‘She stated to me that it was the policy of the airlines that I couldn’t have my iPad and that with all her years of flying that she’s never seen or heard anybody using an iPad to communicate before,’ wrote Fleischmann, who said that her communication needs have always been accommodated by the crew on previous flights.
“’My iPad to me is like a voice. Can you imagine being on the airplane and (being) asked not to talk for over 25 minutes,” she wrote, adding that she was ultimately allowed to keep her iPad out after the captain of the plane intervened but the device had to be placed “in front of my seat out of my reach.” Fleischmann, whose intellectual capabilities went unknown until age 11 when she began to type, is well-known with her story having been featured on ABC News, CNN and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” among others. She has a strong social media presence with over 42,000 fans on Facebook and some 26,000 Twitter followers and they were quick to respond, flooding American Airlines’ Facebook page to demand answers.”