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Readout of TSA Special Counselor Kimberly Walton’s Participation in a Meeting with Thomas Sawyer and Advocacy Organizations

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

On January 25, Special Counselor Kimberly Walton of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) met with members of several organizations representing individuals with ostomy appliances, cancer, digestive disease, and other related groups.

In attendance was Thomas Sawyer, with whom Administrator John Pistole spoke personally after his urostomy bag leaked during screening. Other attendees included: Diane Zipursky Quale, President of the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network; Lawrence M Rzepka, Executive Director of the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network; Linda Aukett, Advocacy Chair, United Ostomy Associations; Katherine Gordon, Staff Attorney, American Diabetes Association; Jennifer Jaff, Executive Director, Advocacy for Patients with Chronic Illness; Michael Smith, Vice President, Gastroparesis Patient Association for Cures and Treatments;  Joan Bishop, Executive Director, The Oley Foundation; Bonnie McElroy, Executive Director, Pull-thru Network; Paul Hastings, President and CEO, Youth Rally and; Mary-Angela DeGrazia-DiTucci, President, Association of Gastrointestinal Motility Disorders (AGMD). Attendees reviewed and discussed ways to improve sensitivity and awareness training for TSA officers.

“I am grateful to all the groups attending this important meeting,” said Special Counselor Kimberly Walton.  “Each individual and organization brings a unique perspective and significant insight about how to improve TSA policies.  I look forward to continuing this critical dialogue, which helps TSA develop screening procedures that ensure the safety of all travelers while respecting those with individual needs.”

In this interactive exchange, the attendees identified areas where TSA was doing things well and areas that could benefit from improved communication and additional training. Those attending provided invaluable insight into how to improve security procedures for their constituencies and offered to provide assistance in this continuing effort. Among the many ideas discussed included the possibility of developing an electronic database of common medically-related devices to make available to TSA's screening personnel and involving consumers directly in the training provided to TSA's officers.

All in attendance agreed to join TSA’s coalition of over 70 disability-related groups and organizations to help refine screening procedures and share feedback from persons with disabilities and medical conditions. These partnerships enhance our officer’s knowledge and understanding of the medical needs of the traveling public TSA serves. Preserving these partnerships is essential in ensuring an open dialogue is maintained as TSA continues to evolve.