July 26 marks a significant day for millions of Americans with disabilities: National Disability Independence Day. This day commemorates the signing of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) in 1990, a transformative civil rights law that aims to eliminate discrimination against individuals with disabilities and ensure their full participation in the community, independent living and economic self-sufficiency. Today, approximately one in four Americans with disabilities can access and actively participate in their workplaces and communities.
To honor this day and promote inclusion, on July 27, San José Mineta International Airport (SJC) hosted a group of students from the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired along with their parents, caregivers and school staff. Through the SJC Speakers Bureau Program (aka “SJC Speaks”), we offered an Airport presentation and tour, empowering the students with valuable insights into the world of aviation and air travel.
One of the topics of the presentation was focused on the numerous career opportunities that an airport can offer, showcasing the diversity of roles available to individuals with different abilities. By providing insight into these possibilities, our team sought to inspire the students to dream big and break barriers -- their potential knows no bounds.
The visit also included a comprehensive tour of the Airport terminals, where the children had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with SJC’s facilities. The Information Booths, security checkpoints and control processes were explained, ensuring they felt comfortable and safe in the airport environment. Understanding the layout of the terminals and experiencing the process of boarding a plane firsthand aimed to instill a sense of confidence so that students feel comfortable navigating the airport independently.
Alaska Airlines and TSA played a crucial role in making the Airport tour complete by giving visitors their own boarding passes, a security screening and the opportunity to board a plane, highlighting all the facilities and programs designed to ease the travelling experience for passengers with disabilities, medical conditions or who may simply be nervous flyers.
These amenities, such as SJC's Sunflower Lanyard Program, TSA Cares, Therapy Animals and ADA facilities, help ensure that all passengers, regardless of their abilities, can have a seamless and enjoyable journey.
Through initiatives like the Airport presentation and tour at SJC, we are taking concrete steps towards fostering a more inclusive and understanding society. By celebrating diversity and empowering individuals of all abilities, we can create a world where everyone can both fully participate and enjoy experiences that many take for granted.