Elevating the disability community to new heights.
JetBlue Airways has long aspired to be the top airline for travelers with disabilities. Judging by its unique contributions to The Viscardi Center, the Blue crew — led by President and CEO Robin Hayes — is en route to accomplishing its goal. From raising disability awareness at fundraisers, to marching beside Viscardi at the Disability Pride Parade, to preparing diverse job seekers for employment, JetBlue has proven its commitment to enhancing passenger and employee accessibility on the ground and in the sky.
For those who depend on powered wheelchairs and consistent medical care, flying can be a logistical challenge. In an effort to make air travel a reality for students from the Henry Viscardi School, Bob Bilak, the director of crew relations and compliance at JetBlue, began facilitating daytrips from New York to Boston. These flights provide a group of students, many of whom have never traveled in an aircraft, the chance to check-in at John F. Kennedy International Airport, observe the inner-workings of the cockpit, engage with crewmembers and pilots, and enjoy lunch in Boston’s Logan International Airport.
Viscardi students aren’t the only ones learning a thing or two on the journey — JetBlue’s Corporate Facility team uses the experience to identify ways to improve the overall travel experience for people with disabilities and offer training opportunities for its staff. For staff, the learning process continues after touchdown.
As a member of Viscardi’s National Business & Disability Council — an employer organization and comprehensive resource for disability best practices — crewmembers regularly consult with experts and access information related to hiring and retaining employees with disabilities. In turn, the crew mentors participants in Viscardi’s vocational training and employment placement services program, instilling eager job hunters with the tools and confidence to land an appropriate position.
Partnerships with companies like JetBlue don’t just sustain the programs and services offered at the Center. They encourage social and corporate changes that help elevate the disability community to new heights.