SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Two weeks ago KRON4 shared the story of Dan Jarvis. His video showing him getting an invasive pat down by a TSA agent went viral on TikTok.
Jarvis is deaf and has cochlear implants, which means he’s unable to go through a TSA Scanner. His experience while traveling home to Australia from San Francisco isn’t as unique as you might think.
KRON4 spoke with a local advocacy group and explain more about what needs to change.
The Felton Institute in Alameda advocates for and provides mental health services for people in the deaf and hard of hearing community. A lot of shaking heads at Felton when staff watched the video for themselves.
Uncomfortable to watch and uncomfortable to live through for Dan Jarvis — a deaf man having a TSA agent feel his genital area nearly five times at SFO.
The viral video on TikTok was shown to the President and CEO of the Felton Institute Al Gilbert.
“Not only is it totally unjustified, but it is ridiculous,” Gilbert said.
Cochlear implants can be damaged by passing through a TSA Scanner, which is the reason for pat-downs from agents, but Gilbert says there’s no reason for something like this.
He was confused as to why a metal detector wand wasn’t used on Jarvis instead.
“That is what the wand is for because everybody else just gets that, so you don’t pat them down in the crotch area if you can wave the wand and there’s nothing there then you don’t do that,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert has heard about other invasive TSA pat-downs before and much worse.
From children living with disabilities to those living in a wheelchair being lifted up, when it comes to advocating for the deaf community, the Felton Institute has their Deaf Community Counseling Services.
The program’s director, Selah Davison, also has cochlear implants.
“Reminds you that you are not equal to them and it’s difficult to live with that reminder constantly and it would be nice if we feel inclusive,” Davison said.
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Davison works every day for her community, but says it’s important for those who are deaf or heard of hearing to know their rights and advocate for themselves when passing through TSA — especially when videos like this make their rounds on social media.
“In that kind of situation it would be helpful to get a TSA supervisor to be there and he has the right to ask for a private screening, so when he’s private he can explain more,” Davison said.
Davison says all cochlear implants have an ID card with a customer service number that the user can give to TSA to call if they are having trouble communicating, or if an agent has any questions about how the implants work.