Fielding a Full Team in Rio

Editor’s Note: This blog was cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Labor’s blog.

The spirit of competition and excellence resumes in Rio today, as the 2016 summer Paralympics kick off. At these games, just like at those that recently concluded, elite athletes from around the world will inspire and awe on the field of play. They will shatter records. They’ll also outstrip expectations — on more than one level.

Like all Olympians, each Paralympian has a unique story characterized by not only athletic prowess but also perseverance and drive, of finding a way in when doors were closed. Competing at the highest level with a disability, these athletes often jump one more hurdle.  Similarly, it’s not just about the medals they bring home. It’s also about what’s possible, and in particular what’s possible when all people have the opportunity to develop their gifts and talents on the field of play.

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Transportation Security Administration Programs for Travelers with Disabilities

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Transportation Security Administration logo

By Guest Blogger Susan Buckland, Senior Policy Advisor, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

The Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) mission is to protect our nation’s transportation systems so that we all can travel safely.  TSA Security Officers work to protect and screen approximately two million travelers each day.

All travelers are required to undergo screening, but TSA has developed screening procedures to ensure that travelers and their associated medical items and devices can be screened regardless of the disability or medical condition.  How this screening is conducted depends on the traveler’s disability or medical condition, the technology in use at the checkpoint, and the needs communicated to TSA personnel by the traveler.

TSA Cares

TSA Cares is a helpline for travelers with disabilities or medical conditions who want to prepare for the screening process prior to flying.  Travelers or their companions may call TSA Cares toll free at 1-855-787-2227 or Federal Relay 711 or e-mail The hours of operation for the TSA Cares helpline are 8 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. ET from Monday to Friday and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET on weekends and holidays.

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Meet Mariah, “No Boundaries” 2016 Participant

"No Boundaries" 2016 participant Mariah sits in her wheelchair behind an office desk.

By Carolyn VanBrocklin, Communications Specialist, Team

When Mariah rolls into the office, she exudes bubbly confidence. Born with cerebral palsy, she wanted to participate in “No Boundaries” because she “thought it would be an amazing experience to show what people with disabilities can do. When barriers are broken down, people with disabilities are able to be active participants in their communities and nationwide.”

Mariah didn’t know a lot of people with disabilities when she was younger. She grew up in an Air Force family, which meant frequent moves, and she was often the only person in her school who used a wheelchair. After her family moved to Texas, she joined Kinetic Kids, an accessible sports and recreation program for young people with disabilities. For the first time, she met other kids her age who also used walkers or wheelchairs to get around. Mariah says the program provides a very positive experience for young people with disabilities. “[Participants] realize they can dream big and know not to limit themselves.”

Mariah says that her disability has impacted her life in a positive light through the extraordinary experiences it has made possible – like participating in “No Boundaries.” Though she doesn’t drive, she’s visited more than 15 states and Washington, D.C., and made close friends along the way. She has a strong support system of family, friends, co-workers and community to help her fulfill her dreams, which she says have enriched her life and helped shape her positive outlook and sense of determination.

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Meet Ines, “No Boundaries” 2016 Participant

Ines stands at a kitchen counter with the ingredients to make an omelete.

By Carolyn VanBrocklin, Communications Specialist, Team

Ines juggles brightly-colored peppers between her hands as she waits for her photo shoot to begin. Her infectious laugh echoes throughout the kitchen, as the peppers bounce off the counter and roll to a stop. The shoot starts, and in between clicks of the camera Ines adjusts the blue scarf looped around her neck, which she chose because it coordinates with the Sjogren’s syndrome awareness bracelet proudly worn on her wrist.

The kitchen is where Ines feels most at home. Since immigrating to the U.S. from Nicaragua 24 years ago, she has honed her cooking skills to become a master of numerous international cuisines. She is well versed in the nuances of Greek, Chinese and Cuban cuisine, to name a few. Her specialty is soup – from hearty minestrone to creamy Avgolemono.

For years, Sjogren’s syndrome was the nameless monster that threatened to limit Ines’s abilities in the kitchen and her occupation as a nanny. Doctors were at first not able to diagnose what originally seemed like an allergy to the sun and a severe case of dry eyes. Some thought she had multiple sclerosis, since Ines also has Raynaud’s disease, which causes parts of the body – specifically the fingers and toes – to go numb as a reaction to cold weather or stress.  It wasn’t until 2012, when she was treated at the National Institutes of Health, that she was finally diagnosed with primary Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder.

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#Disability Blog Carnival: Living in a Post ADA World

Photo collage of children and adults with disabilitiesEditor’s Note: This blog was cross-posted from

By Christina D’Allesandro, New Hampshire State Director, MomsRising, and Rebecca Cokley, Executive Director, National Council on Disability.

Nearly 20 percent of Americans are living with a disability, and countless others are deeply involved in caring for and supporting individuals affected by disability. Last year we celebrated 25 years from the passage of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA). We highlighted many successes, while realizing that we still have a long way to go.

Those who have grown up under the infrastructure of laws including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the ADA are referred to as the “ADA Generation.” As this generation comes of age their expectations for their lives are different than those who came before. Many have been mainstreamed in schools, some have gone to college and graduated and others went straight from school to the workforce. These outcomes have been shaped by the expectations for their success set forth in policy, and as a result, their perception of the American Dream is one that looks much more like that of their non-disabled peers. This includes the right to be a parent, whether by having biological children, adopting or fostering. While these individuals are seeking out the tools and resources to become parents, the social service system, judicial system and everyone from Babies “R” Us to your neighborhood daycare center is also needing to make adjustments to their definition of parenting.

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