Deaf in TSA
Recent studies have shown that Deaf people perform certain tasks better than the general public. In several of these studies, Deaf people were shown to have higher capacity for processing visual tasks, demonstrating quicker reaction times to visual stimuli. In others, Deaf people were shown to be quicker at recognizing and interpreting body language. Everything being equal, this gives Deaf people a leg up when it comes to jobs that rely on visual processing or interpreting body language — such as Transportation Security Officers, who screen travelers and monitor them for suspicious behavior.
But everything is not equal, and Deaf people are prohibited from being Transportation Security Officers, though the career would otherwise seem uniquely suited for them. Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires Transportation Security Officer applicants to pass a hearing test; those who do not are placed on hold, effectively tabling their application and denying them the honor of becoming Transportation Security Officers.
This artificial barrier to employment not only denies Deaf people careers, it prevents Deaf people from serving their country. But this doesn’t need to be the case: Deaf people are employed as security guards, surveillance managers and expert body language analysts by private companies, and by the governments of other countries. DHS’ requirement for a hearing test is notable for the fact that it excludes any consideration for the provision of reasonable accommodations — which private companies are required to provide applicants, per the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Do you want to tell the TSA that you want them to open up their hiring process and let Deaf people work where they are most successful? Sign the petition, here!
Why should Deaf people be prevented from working as Transportation Security Officers? It has already historically been proven by many Deaf people — including myself — that we are able to meet or exceed the performance of our hearing peers in this type of field. The skills we have to offer in this field are boundless. My hope is that the TSA will remove this needless barrier and allow people like us to work for them.