Airport security lines adapt for travelers with disabilities

For many people, going through airport security lines is hardly an enjoyable experience. It often involves waiting in long lines and all of the required actions can be stressful. However, this process might be even more uncomfortable and frustrating for a person with a disability. For instance, a person navigating airport security lines in a wheelchair may encounter difficulties with metal detectors.

Just a few weeks ago, a 3-year-old in a wheelchair was improperly screened by a Transportation Security Administration agent in an airport security line. A video of the screening went viral on the internet and drew attention to how the TSA handles special needs of persons with disabilities.

The TSA recently announced that they have trained 2,600 TSA employees in how to handle the "concerns of travelers with special needs." These specially trained officers will be near every airport checkpoint during normal airport hours. Any person with a disability or mental condition can simply request to have one of the TSA's passenger screening specialists provide help through airport security.

According to a TSA spokesman, the passenger screening specialists will be able to "provide proactive assistance and resolve concerns" of passengers. In addition, the TSA spokesman suggests that passengers planning to request the help of a passenger screening specialist arrive at the airport early and make the request right away.

TSA's move demonstrates recognition that they have not necessarily always handled the screening of persons with disabilities very well. With this new initiative, hopefully if a person who has suffered a serious back injury and cannot stand for extended periods of time would be able to navigate through airport security without feeling like his or her health has been compromised. Every traveler deserves respect and this new initiative may help bring that to airport security lines.

Source: Disability Scoop, "TSA offers extra help for travelers with special needs," Shaun Heasley, March 5, 2013

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