Man standing with white cane in front of entrance to airport, ready to travel.

Traveling Blind


This article is part of our Fall 2020 Breaking Barriers. This installment focuses on traveling with a disability. If you'd like to read more stories from this issue, please subscribe to Breaking Barriers.  ‌

As‌ ‌a‌ ‌blind‌ ‌person,‌ ‌I‌ ‌was‌ ‌nervous‌ ‌about‌ ‌traveling‌ ‌alone‌ ‌by‌ ‌air‌ ‌from‌ ‌Des‌ ‌Moines‌ ‌to‌ ‌meet‌ ‌my‌ ‌wife‌ ‌in‌ ‌Chicago‌—and‌ ‌make‌ ‌the‌ ‌return‌ ‌trip—but‌ ‌it‌ ‌went‌ ‌smoothly.‌ The‌ ‌airlines‌ ‌have‌ ‌done‌ ‌a‌ ‌good‌ ‌job‌ ‌of‌ ‌helping‌ ‌people‌ ‌with‌ ‌disabilities‌ ‌make‌ ‌it‌ ‌to‌ ‌their‌ ‌destinations,‌ ‌and‌ ‌cell‌ ‌phones‌ ‌have‌ ‌become‌ ‌a‌ ‌very‌ ‌helpful‌ ‌tool‌ ‌for‌ ‌connecting‌ ‌with‌ ‌people‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌right‌ ‌times‌ ‌and‌ ‌places.‌ ‌

My‌ ‌daughter‌ ‌dropped‌ ‌me‌ ‌off‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌Des‌ ‌Moines‌ ‌airport‌ ‌and‌ ‌left‌ ‌me‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌ticket‌ ‌counter.‌ ‌As‌ ‌soon‌ ‌as‌ ‌I‌ ‌was‌ ‌checked‌ ‌in,‌ ‌an‌ ‌attendant‌ ‌came‌ ‌and‌ ‌led‌ ‌me‌ ‌up‌ ‌through‌ ‌security‌ ‌to‌ ‌my‌ ‌gate.‌ ‌She‌ ‌thoughtfully‌ ‌asked‌ ‌how‌ ‌she‌ ‌could‌ ‌best‌ ‌lead‌ ‌me,‌ ‌and‌ ‌I‌ ‌told‌ ‌her‌ ‌it‌ ‌would‌ ‌work‌ ‌best‌ ‌if‌ ‌I‌ ‌could‌ ‌hold‌ ‌onto‌ ‌her‌ ‌elbow.‌ ‌

Someone‌ ‌else‌ ‌assisted‌ ‌me‌ ‌down‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌plane,‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌flight‌ ‌attendant‌ ‌brought‌ ‌me‌ ‌to‌ ‌my‌ ‌assigned‌ ‌seat.‌ ‌I‌ ‌had‌ ‌some‌ ‌cash‌ ‌in‌ ‌my‌ ‌pocket‌ ‌to‌ ‌thank‌ ‌each‌ ‌person‌ ‌who‌ ‌helped‌ ‌me.‌ ‌I‌ ‌sat‌ ‌back‌ ‌to‌ ‌enjoy‌ ‌the‌ ‌flight.‌ ‌ ‌

Upon‌ ‌arrival‌ ‌in‌ ‌Chicago,‌ ‌an‌ ‌attendant‌ ‌met‌ ‌me‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌gate‌ ‌and‌ ‌brought‌ ‌me‌ ‌out‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌front‌ ‌door.‌ ‌He‌ ‌patiently‌ ‌waited‌ ‌with‌ ‌me‌ ‌until‌ ‌my‌ ‌wife‌ ‌came‌ ‌to‌ ‌pick‌ ‌me‌ ‌up.‌ ‌For‌ ‌this‌ ‌trip‌ ‌I‌ ‌had‌ ‌just‌ ‌a‌ ‌carry-on‌ ‌bag,‌ ‌so‌ ‌I‌ ‌did‌ ‌not‌ ‌need‌ ‌to‌ ‌deal‌ ‌with‌ ‌baggage‌ ‌claim.‌ ‌ ‌

The‌ ‌return‌ ‌trip‌ ‌went‌ ‌equally‌ ‌well,‌ ‌with‌ ‌my‌ ‌pastor‌ ‌picking‌ ‌me‌ ‌up‌ ‌at‌ ‌the‌ ‌airport‌ ‌and‌ ‌dropping‌ ‌me‌ ‌off‌ ‌at‌ ‌home.‌ ‌We‌ ‌live‌ ‌life‌ ‌in‌ ‌community,‌ ‌and‌ ‌I‌ ‌am‌ ‌thankful‌ ‌for‌ ‌those‌ ‌who‌ ‌help‌ ‌me‌ ‌do‌ ‌what‌ ‌I‌ ‌cannot‌ ‌do‌ ‌for‌ ‌myself.‌ ‌

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