PHL Celebrates Disability Pride Month

Saron McKeeDisability Pride Month has been celebrated every July since 1990. To me, disability pride is being valued for the perspective that I bring from a lifetime of unique experiences.

I am humbled and proud to be charged with helping PHL become one of the most accessible airports in the United States. I am regularly reminded that the work we do to increase accessibility, equity, and inclusion at PHL exists within a larger interconnected context.

People with disabilities require full access and inclusion at every point of the travel journey to enjoy equitable access to travel. PHL’s ADA foundation is to exceed the ADA standards, ensure full inclusion for people with disabilities, and create programs to ensure that people with disabilities have an equitable experience while traveling through PHL.

“Equitable access for people with disabilities doesn’t just support and empower an individual. It positively impacts the guests we serve, the entire PHL/PNE workforce, and our various stakeholders and partners throughout the aviation industry.” -Jonathan Todd, Division of Aviation Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

This month we released the Access for All program which includes an in-depth, 65-page guide that covers preparing for travel, getting to the airport, the ticketing and security checkpoint processes, the secure side of the airport, and ending your travels at PHL. We have also released multiple easy-to-read short stories with pictures to help people prepare for their trip. The stories cover each step of the travel journey and are written so the reader can select the one that is most relevant to their situation, or they can go through each one and enjoy the set from beginning to end.

“PHL’s comprehensive Access for All program is thoughtfully designed to provide information to our travelers with disabilities. Our goal is to be as welcoming and accommodating as possible.” -Keith Brune, Division of Aviation Interim CEO

We continue to develop programs to support and provide access to people with disabilities. In addition to the Access for All program, PHL’s accessibility website contains information about the airport’s other disability-related programs like the AIRA (Eye-ra), a service provided by the Airport to connect blind and low-vision people to remote agents. Another great program is the Sunflower Lanyard, which can be requested at one of our information desks by people with hidden disabilities. The lanyard helps signify when a little extra help or support may be needed for those with disabilities such as memory loss, mental illness, developmental disorders, or other conditions that may not be immediately obvious to other people.

We want to ensure that people with disabilities are afforded every opportunity to utilize the same services and obtain the same information as those who do not have a disability. This requires a focus on identifying and seeking solutions that provide an equitable experience.” - Delicsha Wilds, Division of Aviation Chief Administrative Officer 



Candace Pankey, an administrative assistant for the Division of Aviation's Revenue Department, joined the airport in February 1996.  She describes herself as "living and working with hand deformities, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases". She has had a total right hip replacement and neck fusion and is awaiting a knee replacement. Candace chronicled her relationship with "Art" (arthritis) in the poem below. 

Candace Poem


"To me, disability pride means that I am respected as a person. Not to be treated 'special', but to be treated normal with a little extra help and understanding." - Cynthia Peoples, Division of Aviation Clerk III, Properties

Cynthia PeoplesCynthia, a Division of Aviation employee for eight years, is living and working with diabetic retinopathy, low vision and degenerative disc disease. This is how Cynthia describes how her diagnosis has impacted her life: 

"These challenges are new to me. When I found out I was suffering from these things, I was upset because I never thought that I would experience anything like this. Now that I have had to change the way I was used to living, I appreciate small things that I took for granted--things such as reading a book, driving a car, walking, cleaning up, taking pictures, etc. Not being able to see clearly and some days struggling with movement, I am learning to appreciate routine and embracing time and life in a new perspective. I don’t think people really understand that, when you have physical and mental challenges, respect is still important. No, we may not be able to do a lot of what "normal" people do, but we are not "different" either. I often think about the tortoise and the hare story. I embrace being the tortoise in the matter. Regardless of how long it took the tortoise to get to the finish line, the point was the tortoise not only made it to the line, but won the race! No matter what the challenges are we face in life, having a mindset to move forward to make your mark should always motivate you to be a winner, disability or not."


Media Contacts

Christine Ottow
Director of Strategic Communications
[email protected]
Heather Redfern
Public Affairs Manager
[email protected]

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