Episode 23 – Advocacy, Accessibility, and the DOT

Barriers in travel and the lack of accessible transportation are huge issues for many people living with nueromuscular disease and other physical disabilities. Today, we chat with Kelly Buckland, a disability policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and Michael Lewis, the director of disability policy at MDA. Both guests play active roles in advocating for the rights of people with disabilities and for meaningful advances in accessible air travel and transportation policies. In this podcast, we discuss current barriers, advocacy goals, policy updates, and recent successes. Successes that include the US airline industry trade organization, Airlines for America (A4A), and seven US passenger airlines’ adoption of the DOT’s Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights and recent commitment to making meaningul improvements to passenger accessibility.

Learn more about advances in acessible air travel policy: 

Learn how you can get involved with MDA’s advocacy initiatives: 

Your Guests

Kelly Buckland

Kelly Buckland is a person with a disability who has been actively involved in disability issues since 1979. Kelly graduated from Boise State University with a bachelor’s degree in social work and Drake University with a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling.  He served for over twenty years as the Executive Director of the Living Independence Network Corporation and the Idaho State Independent Living Council in Boise, Idaho. Kelly has been honored with numerous state and national awards, including the University of Idaho President’s Medallion, the Hewlett-Packard Distinguished Achievement in Human Rights Award, Outstanding Alumni of Boise State University, and Outstanding Alumni of Drake University. Kelly also has a long history with the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL). He served as NCIL Vice-President from 2001 to 2005, NCIL President from 2005 to 2009, and NCIL Executive Director from 2009 to 2021. Currently, he serves as a disability policy advisor for the Office of Assistance Secretary on Policy at the US Department of Transportation (DOT).

Connect with DOT: 




Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis has spent over a decade working in disability rights for various organizations.  His passion for disability policy advocacy stems from his experience as an individual with cerebral palsy.  As Director of Disability Policy at MDA, Michael leads MDA’s advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill and with federal agencies to defend and expand access to civil rights, education, economic independence and employment, and accessible recreation and travel for people with neuromuscular diseases and other disabilities.  A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill and Regent University, Michael resides in northern Virginia with his wife and four children. 

Connect with Michael: 


Twitter: @MichaelKLewis, @MDA_Advocacy

Mindy Henderson

Mindy Henderson is the Director of Quest Media, Editor-in-Chief of MDA’s Quest magazine and the host of this podcast.  She was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, type 2 when she was 15 months old and has been a life-long partner to MDA.  Mindy is also a motivational speaker and a writer, and just published her first book, The Truth About Things That Suck.

Connect with Mindy:

Disclaimer: No content on this site should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician. 

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