A newly formed Houston Airports team will continue to provide support and advocacy for accessibility and inclusion efforts that enhance the experience for travelers with disabilities who depart, arrive or connect through Houston’s airports.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed by George Bush Intercontinental Airport’s (IAH) namesake, former President George H.W. Bush, 30 years ago, a monumental event recognized as National Disability Independence Day.
The new team includes members from two divisions - External Affairs and the newly created Aviation Risk and Regulatory Compliance (ARRC) division. AARC’s Chief Officer, Jocelyn LaBove, will assist in managing policy development and compliance with city, state and federal laws involving ADA matters while External Affairs’ Government Relations and ADA Manager Kim Torres will enhance Houston Airports’ relationships with elected officials and advocacy groups that champion for people with disabilities. Torres previously served as the Executive Director of the Down Syndrome Association of Houston. Houston Airports’ Director of Government Relations Tim Joniec will also serve on the team.
“Houston Airports has put together a strong commitment to disability inclusion,” Torres said. “I’m ready to get started as we focus on the customer first, a hallmark of good customer service and an essential component to becoming a 5-star rated airport system.”
LaBove and Torres will also collaborate on developing specialized training on disability awareness and inclusion for employees and stakeholders.
“With the addition of Ms. Torres to the team, Houston Airports is one step closer to achieving our vision to establish Houston as a 5-star global air service gateway where the magic of flight is celebrated,” LaBove said. “The ARRC team looks forward to serve as a collaborative advisor in Houston Airports furthering its commitment to diversity, inclusion and accessibility.”
Houston Airports became even more accessible in 2018 when it partnered with Aira, a subscription-based service providing wearable technology for the blind/low vision community. IAH and HOU were the first in Texas to partner with Aira on its airport network and the third and fourth in the country to do so. Aira technology is free of charge at the airports for people who are blind/low vision.
In 2019, Houston Airports rolled out the Access Houston Airports app to enhance the airport experience for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their caregivers. The Access Houston Airports app is free to download and available through the App Store and Google Play.
Other recent enhancements include:
- conducting employee disability awareness training;
- providing service dog familiarization training to puppy raisers of prospective service dogs; and
- continuing partnerships with Southwest and United Airlines on the annual Wings for All event, a program to familiarize individuals and their caregivers with the airport experience.
In 2019, Houston Airports received praise from Texas Governor Greg Abbott for its accessibly and inclusion efforts and programs.
“The Houston Airport System has taken important steps to enhance the experience of Texans and Americans with disabilities who are traveling through both IAH and William P. Hobby Airport (HOU),” Governor Greg Abbott stated in a 2019 letter recognizing Houston Airports for its work to ensure Texans and travelers with disabilities have the support they need.
More information on Houston Airports accessibility related services can be found at fly2houston.com.