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Disability & the Right to Move in the World

March 30, 2023

“[G]reater overall access masks the realities and stakes of air travel for people with disabilities,” writes Prof. Jasmine Harris at The Regulatory Review.

Jasmine Harris, Professor of Law, recently explored current air regulations that limit accessibility of air travel to people with disabilities at The Regulatory Review.

Harris’s article is the first in a series of essays on “Mobility Justice,” in which experts discuss how regulators can make transportation systems more accessible and just.

The following is an excerpt:

Almost sixty years ago, Professor Jacobus tenBroek famously argued that state regulation of disability ought to emphasize a “right to live in the world.” Today, law and policy give meaning to this right. But one underexamined aspect of the right to live in the world is the right to move in it.

“Mobility justice,” an umbrella term for an emerging interdisciplinary field of study that considers how power and inequality inform the regulation of movement, emphasizes what the right to move in the world looks like for different people. One of the field’s leading scholars, Mimi Sheller, describes the field’s wide-ranging emphasis on “embodied and material practices of movement” and “infrastructures and systems of governance that enable or disable movement.” She also emphasizes its focus on the “representations, ideologies, and meanings attached to both movement and stillness, connection and disconnection, and often the simultaneity of both.”

Air travel is one natural site to interrogate how mobility justice impacts disabled people. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), approximately 2.9 million airline passengers take more than 45,000 flights each day and move across 29 million square miles of airspace. No longer a luxury good, lower flight costs have democratized air travel, at least in theory… .

The Regulatory Review is a daily online publication that provides accessible coverage of regulatory policymaking and enforcement issues across a full range of regulatory topics and from a variety of perspectives.

Launched in 2009 and operating under the guidance of Cary Coglianese, Edward B. Shils Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science, The Review is edited by students at Penn Carey Law. It is part of the overarching teaching, research, and outreach mission of the Penn Program on Regulation (PPR), which draws together more than 60 faculty from across the University of Pennsylvania.

Read “Disability and the Right to Move in the World” at The Regulatory Review.