November 14, 2022
By Heather Karch and Chelsea Rodriguez
On July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted to “prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications and access to state and local government programs and services.” (Source: U.S. Department of Labor).
At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, we’re celebrating 31 years of this landmark legislation and reaffirming our commitment to becoming the most accessible airport in the country. Today we’re focusing on hidden disabilities and programs that support travelers and reinforce our number one goal of being an inclusive and welcoming place for all. We’re always here to help you.
A hidden disability is a chronic condition that may not be readily apparent or visible but can significantly impact a person’s life. It could include any of these conditions and more:
|Crohn’s Disease||Learning difficulties, including dyslexia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, and language processing disorder|
|Cystic Fibrosis||Rheumatoid Arthritis|
|Depression, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, anxiety, and other mental health conditions||Visual and auditory disabilities for those who don’t use visible support aids like glasses or hearing aids|
In 2019 and 2020, Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA) implemented innovative initiatives to elevate the experience for passengers with hidden disabilities, increase engagement with stakeholders in the disability community, and improve communication with passengers about services.
These projects increased the awareness of hidden disabilities, provided a tool to help travelers prepare for a positive airport experience, created a space to ease stress during the travel experience, and provided a platform for disability community members to offer advice and input on SEA travel issues.
At SEA Airport, our approach to accessibility is like a three-legged stool supported through work in facilities, customer service, and community engagement.
SEA Airport works hard to ensure that the physical landscape of the airport is accessible and accommodating to all travelers, including people with disabilities. SEA Airport has launched many features that help travelers with disabilities:
Helpfulness is built into our culture as an important pillar of our brand. We are always here to help and want you to have a great experience at SEA. One of the most important initiatives has been training the SEA Airport team to recognize people who need a little extra help and how to provide assistance. Just look for the Pathfinders and volunteers in the bright green gear or go to the information desk.
One great example is the SEA Social story and resource guide to prepare travelers and their caregivers for what to expect at the airport
Digital communications are also an important part of giving you elevated service and helping you get ready for your journey.
SEA Airport’s website was referenced as a positive example during a recent ODO Fostering Independence for Travelers with Disabilities webinar. The website has been:
The FlySEA App is an airport directory in your pocket and an on-the-go guide to accessible services.
By clicking the accessibility button on the home page, you will find information on getting a wheelchair in the terminal, using hearing loop and Aira services, and how to get a sunflower lanyard for travelers with hidden disabilities.
We collaborate with stakeholders in the disability community and rely on their input on new facilities and programs. For example:
And we always love to hear from SEA travelers about how we’re doing. Here’s some feedback from your fellow travelers:
And we’re especially proud of this shoutout from @christopher_ali:
Share your thoughts on the following channels:
What's coming next? In the near future, SEA Airport will continue the quest for accessibility by:
November 14, 2022
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