In full disclosure, I have a tumultuous history with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Robby and I were traveling last May when we encountered a screener who, in my opinion, abused his power and subjected us to a screening which lacked common courtesy and dignity. I have found the screenings conducted by TSA officials to be inconsistent among airports to the point where I experience anxiety before I arrive at the airport. Simply put, I never know what to expect.
In an effort to respond to the complaints lodged by passengers with disabilities, the TSA has been working with the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) on a new notification system. I first learned of this plan over a year ago when my firestorm with the agency began. This system, at least a year in the works, has been touted as a way to facilitate the screening process for individuals with disabilities, including those with a limb loss.
I opened my email and was excited to receive a copy of the new notification card. I opened the PDF file and immediately began to laugh. Seriously TSA, you have had over a year and this is the best that can be done? A print-me-off-the-computer, fill in the blank, this is my disability but I'll still be subjected to extra screening name tag inspired card?
This "notification card" would indeed inform the screeners that I have a prosthetic and that I have a name. However, I have never had an agent dispute those points. Typically seeing carbon fiber attached to a pylon and a rubber foot is a fairly good indication of a prosthetic, even for the most inadequately trained agent!
I understand that this card might be quasi-useful for individuals with medical implants, or amputees who wear a cosmetic cover and are bashful about verbalizing their limb loss. For me, flashing the "I am an amputee" name card will do nothing to expedite the screening process. I habitually wear a skirt or shorts when traveling to make identification of my prosthetic easy.
The "notification card" is lacking any information about what I, as an individual with a disability, should expect during my screening. Perhaps printing the "dos" and "don'ts" on the card would have been advantageous to thwart any abuses of power. If the carrier knew that a request was against regulation (such as removing a prosthetic) and it was clearly stated on the "officially issued" pdf card, it could be an opportunity for education.
As it stands now, amputees will still be subjected to extra screening by individuals who have been improperly trained. I fail to fathom how seeing a computer generated, fill-in-the-blank-with-name-and-disability card will facilitate my screening. Speaking for myself, I find the "notification card" a pathetic attempt at outreach to the amputee community!
I have decided to improve upon the issued "notification card." Although I still doubt that this card will help to facilitate anything during the screening process, the AmputeeMommy version will at least educate the traveler about their rights. This information was glaringly absent from the official version which makes me wonder, does TSA not want amputees to know their rights?
Here is the AmputeeMommy version of the TSA card. Unlike the collaborative effort that took over a year to create, my notification card was created in Adobe-- in about 10 minutes.
- I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.