To the Editor:
“Rolling Past a Line, Often by Exploiting a Rule” (news article, Oct. 4) claims that able-bodied people “often” use wheelchairs to avoid airport lines, but it provides not one documented instance of such a ruse, relying instead on rumors and suspicions. Sadly, such unfounded assertions cast doubt on every wheelchair user in every airport, for whom life is already tough enough.
Not all disabilities are obvious; many people have “invisible” respiratory or neurological problems that require occasional wheelchair use. It is also entirely possible for disabled people to perform certain tasks, like lifting luggage or walking some distances, although they are still unable to stand in lengthy security lines.
Most disabled people request help only when it is necessary. Those unused chairs at flights’ end are evidence of independence, not fakery.
Finally, I have a word of advice for those who think that a wheelchair can be a sneaky passport in airports. Try it some time, just for an hour, and see how people treat you (hint: they will talk as if you don’t exist). Then be grateful for your own mobility.
Chicago, Oct. 4, 2012
The writer is a professor at Northwestern University School of Law.