Friday, July 13, 2012

Response to the TSA

Hello everyone,

First, I would like to update you all. There were 2 comments on my blog post "Audism Experiment #4", which had told me I have been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award, and the Leibster Blog Award. Awards? Hey, that's fantastic, until I go to check them out, that is......

Turns out both awards also require me to answer some "get to know you" questions, and then ask some of others. Both awards ask me to nominate another 11 blogs. Now, to me, this is starting to seem like it's along the lines of those old 'chain emails' or something else so silly.

Please do not get me wrong, I had to be nominated by other bloggers just like me, which means I must have done something to their liking in order to be nominated by them. Let's hope so, at least. If that is really the case, then I would like to thank Divya Bisht and Erleen Alvarez for their nominating me. On the overall, though, it kind of feels like empty, like anyone could have gotten this, and it makes me feel as though placing a lot of emphasis on this feels lackluster. Again, Erleen and Divya, thank you, but I'd rather not participate.

With that out of the way, what i want to talk about today is the TSA, or the Transportation Security Administration. Recently in Kentucky there was a National Association of the Deaf (NAD) convention held. One of the Deaf people in attendance decided to blog about how poorly he was treated by the TSA at the SDF airport in Louisville. Apparently TSA officers teased and mocked him for being Deaf, and confiscated his candy, then ate it in front of him. There were some other things that allegedly happened as well.

As you an imagine, many Deaf people are upset about this. Deaf people are very sensitive to Audism because they experience it all the time, and to them this incident is just another example of how cruel hearing people can be towards them. Well, the TSA responded with their own blog. Here's the link to see for yourself;

Given the circumstances of what both sides are saying, I have no idea if one side or the other is being completely honest about this incident, and will not comment on that matter. What I'd like to point out is something I can actually see has happened, and that is something the TSA said in their blog response.

"When TSA found out the NAD conference was coming to Louisville, TSA reached out to NAD and other members of its disability coalition while Transportation Security Officers at SDF received additional training on screening deaf passengers from local experts in the field."

What bothers me is what I've highlighted in red. The term "disability coalition". Here's is just another example of Audism at its most ignorant. A government agency referring to Deaf people as 'disabled' is a huge error in characterization. Who knows what really happened to this Deaf passenger, but I can tell you I find it very difficult to fully believe someone or some group who claims to be fair and just when they can't even give culturally deaf people the respect they deserve by referring to them as 'disabled'. I find this incredibly reprehensible and ignorant.

Not only that, but the TSA, who stated that "officers at SDF received additional training on screening deaf passengers from local experts in the field", couldn't even come away from such additional training without the knowledge that Deaf people do not consider themselves to be 'disabled'? At the very least, it appears that the TSA is not being very honest. I'm pretty sure that any local expert on culturally deaf people would have stressed this point in their training sessions. If they can't even show respect in their response, then how am I or anyone else to believe what they are saying is true? They've already done something oppressive by leading everyone to believe that Deaf people are 'disabled'. What I cannot determine is that whether this is an act of Audism in the name of ignorance or apathy. Neither one sits well for me, especially from an agency that should be showing 100 percent professionalism at all times. It's a government agency, representative of our appointed leaders and also of ourselves. My tax money just went to that? Unbelievable.

Don't get me wrong. I want extra security at airports for I never want to bear witness to another version of 9/11 again, but it can be done with more respect and professionalism than this. To me this is just another example of how deep and pervasive Audism is in this country. It is so low on TSA's radar that they couldn't even make an appropriate reference to the Deaf community. It looks bad on them and makes me wonder what it is truly like for the average Deaf person who attempts to pass security points at airports all over this country. The TSA hasn't convinced me of their ability to do so with respect and professionalism. Perhaps they need some agency-wide trainings from the top levels down to their lowest ranking employees on Deaf culture and respect. If they truly conducted themselves they way they claimed to have at SDF concerning the incident in question, then the least they could do is hire someone who would respect the Deaf community enough to learn a little bit about them before making such a reference. Instead, they allow Bob Burns of the TSA Blog Team to represent them.

Soon to come will be the final results in the "Audism Experiment" series.

Until next time,

R. M.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Oops, removing that right away :)