[NABS-L] NABS-L Cab driver suspended

Ben Fulton bluezinfandel at hotmail.com
Mon Jul 30 14:38:28 UTC 2018


	
Hi Julie,

You make a good point that it is the responsibility of guide dog users to
ensure that their dog does not inconvenience others. I'm just trying to see
where exactly that line is. If a guide dog user has failed to keep their dog
groomed, and the dog leaves hair and dander in the cab of an allergic
driver, is the guide dog user then responsible for a cleaning fee. - I've
heard that cleaning fees can be rather high, and I think this would also be
discrimination in practice. I'm pretty sure that no guide dog user would
want to find themselves confronted with an invoice for a cab cleaning. I
know I wouldn't.

Regarding Tyler's situation. I'm not sure if my interpretation here is
correct. - Tyler, are you saying that you told the company that you had a
guide dog, at the time you were ordering the ride, and they still sent a
driver that then refused you service because of your dog.

If that is truly the case then I am amazed, and think that it is completely
unacceptable. If you told them you had a dog, and they still sent a driver
that was unwilling to take you and your dog then the company just isn't
interested in accommodating you. Really, if you told them you had a dog,
then dispatch could have done a better job of communicating with their
drivers.

All the best,
Ben

Hi all,

Yes, Tyler and Aleeha are quite right on this one.  I have been denied Ubers
before, and the original article that was shared hits home because one of
those Uber drivers actually tried to put my dog in the trunk.

I have been working dogs for ten years, and fly a few times a year.
Last year I flew every six weeks or so.  There has never been a problem
accommodating my guide dog with the limited space at my feet under the seat.
I will say that if you fly Fronteer, you may need to take the middle seat
because that will be the best fit.  But even then, the other passengers were
super friendly and chill about having a guide dog next to them.  For those
who feel they need more room, the bulkhead seats are available.  I don't
personally fly bulkhead, but that accommodation can be requested at the
gate.  There is no need to let the airline know ahead of time that you have
a dog.

I would recommend never giving notice to a company that you have a service
animal.  All this does is invite them to discriminate.  They will choose
what seat they think works best for you.  They will find you assistance you
don't need and didn't ask for.  They will give you all kinds of attention
you don't want.  Sometimes, they will deny you access.  Just don't open
yourself up for that headache.  If you need a large cab because you're
traveling with a larger group, by all means tell them that you have four
people and need a four-door vehicle.
These companies should not be given any reason or excuse to discriminate
against us.

You asked about the line between our responsibilities as service animal
users and our rights.  Our responsibilities are to keep our dogs
well-behaved, under control, and well-groomed at all times.  Our
responsibility is to know how our dogs fit under seats, in cars, and in
hotel rooms among others.  If you or anyone else doesn't know how to fit a
dog under an airplane seat, talk to the many handlers who have done it
before.  I am not as cool as this message makes me seem...  :)  But I
routinely fit a 75-pound Labrador under the airplane seat in front of me.
It's nothing to him at this point.
Many of us on this list have lived in dorm rooms with dogs and fit them into
small classrooms on campus.  These dogs are trained to handle small spaces
for hours at a time.

You are correct that a dog cannot block an isle, so we say goodbye to the
isle seat as dog users.  But honestly, other than obeying the safety rules
like the one about the isle, we have the right to sit where we want.  I
don't like when I am told by someone representing a business what I should
do with my dog.  It is my responsibility to know where the dog fits and to
ensure that my dog's presence doesn't inconvenience everyone else.  Hope
this makes sense.

Julie



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On 7/17/18, Littlefield, Tyler via NABS-L <nabs-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> I can assure you that I've taken many many more than 6 flights. I can 
> also assure you that most attendants didn't even pay attention to the 
> service animal being checked. That said, I can tell you that sometimes 
> I was given an empty seat if it were available, but that kind of thing 
> was done at the gate--sometimes, rarely at the counter.
>
> I can also tell you that I am the point of contact for Massachusetts 
> for the Lyft and Uber guide dog denial work that the NFB is doing. One 
> of these resulted in a lawsuit, the other resulted in structured 
> settlement and the NFB is extending resources to pursue this issue. 
> While I am glad that you have not been denied a cab due to a service 
> animal, I've had it happen to me many many times, and so have many 
> other blind people. It's important not to project your luck into these 
> issues by saying that this doesn't happen, then throw responsibility 
> at the feet of those of us who have been denied numerous times. I've 
> probably had well over 100 Lyft denials, and some of those were in 
> cities I've taken flights too, well over 6 flights as a matter of fact,
some of them were in my own home city.
>
> It's also worth note that it is not my obligation, nor my duty to 
> provide information that I have a guide dog to any cab company.
> Conversely, it is my right, and the duty and obligation of the cab 
> company to follow federal law and not deny me simply because of a 
> service animal. This said, I have informed many Lyft drivers of the 
> fact that I do have a guide dog, and many times this concept doesn't 
> sink in because the drivers that end up denying me are shocked at the 
> idea of a dog in their car.
> Thanks,
> On 7/17/2018 4:52 PM, Ben Fulton via NABS-L wrote:
>>
>> I have taken 6 flights so far, and an extra seat has been provided on 
>> every flight. I guess it is because I extended the courtesy to let 
>> them know that I have a dog with me. Also, when ordering a cab, I've 
>> never had it take longer because I told them I have a dog. It hasn't 
>> been a problem at all, and I've never had a cab driver show up and 
>> then be unable to provide me with service. What responsibilities 
>> should lie with the person seeking accommodations in making their 
>> request known to the service provider, in a way that allows the 
>> service provider to provide those accommodations.
>>
>> Subject: Re: [NABS-L] NABS-L Cab driver suspended
>> Message-ID: <5b4cde07.1c69fb81.5c72e.9333 at mx.google.com>
>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>>
>> Tyler is quite right. I travel by air and by cab all the time, and 
>> neither requires that I disclose my service animal. They offer that 
>> as a courtesy to those who wish to disclose, but we are not required. 
>> Under the law, your dog cannot take up more than your allotted seat 
>> space, so airlines do not have to give that to you. I know that some 
>> airlines, mainly in Canada, will give an extra seat upon request, but 
>> you still do not have to disclose.
>> Aleeha Dudley
>>
>>
>> Sent from Mail for Windows 10
>>
>> From: Littlefield, Tyler via NABS-L
>> Sent: Monday, July 16, 2018 1:18 PM
>> To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list
>> Cc: Littlefield, Tyler; Ben Fulton
>> Subject: Re: [NABS-L] NABS-L Cab driver suspended
>>
>> I travel a few times a year. airlines ask if you have a service 
>> animal, but they're not asking so they can keep the seat open. They 
>> will put someone in the seat next to you if it's a full flight, and 
>> if there's no room you need to learn how to position your dog 
>> properly.
>>
>> Taxi services -do not- need to ask you if you have a guide dog. They 
>> should legally transport you, and predisclosing this information 
>> ahead of time is a problem. I am, nor should I be required to 
>> disclose that I have a guide dog so that they can try to find a cab 
>> driver who will accept my dog, because that (from experience) takes 
>> longer to get a cab.
>> Thanks,
>> On 7/16/2018 1:08 PM, Ben Fulton via NABS-L wrote:
>>> I am also a guide dog user. So, I can say that some airlines do 
>>> require you to let them know if you are travelling with an animal. - 
>>> Some of the webpages even have a button that asks yes/no if you have 
>>> a
>> service animal.
>>> This makes sense if they are to have your dog in the cabin, they 
>>> need to make sure there is room. I have never been charged extra, 
>>> but the airline does need to know because they keep the seat next to 
>>> you open for
>> your dog.
>>> Not to be on the seat, of course, but because there is not enough 
>>> room for your dog at your feet, and blocking the aisle is a hazard. 
>>> I have flown with my dog several times now. So, I know what I'm talking
about.
>>>
>>> Similarily, when you are travelling with multiple people the cab 
>>> companies want to know how many people, so they know what vehicle to 
>>> send. - They are not collecting information about you specifically, 
>>> I'm not reading anything in all of this that says that the person 
>>> has to give their name, so all that I'm saying is that the companies 
>>> know what they are transporting, not the name of you or your dog. 
>>> Just if they
>> need space that is suitable for a dog.
>>> Like if I was booking a cab for four people, I would let them know, 
>>> and if I didn't and the company sent a two-door hatchback I couldn't 
>>> blame them for it.
>>>
>>> The law is that they cannot deny you, that person's with a diability 
>>> need to be accommodated, but it must be possible for them to 
>>> accommodate. The accommodations cannot create undue hardship. If 
>>> they are attempting to accommodate and failure to communicate 
>>> results in there being undue hardship in implementing the 
>>> accommodations then the person with a disability will have a more 
>>> difficult time in establishing that their rights have been violated.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Subject: Re: [NABS-L] NABS-L] Cab driver suspended
>>> Message-ID: <5b4bbea1.1c69fb81.cad4c.7068 at mx.google.com>
>>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>>>
>>> As a service animal user myself, I feel that it is totally 
>>> inappropriate for a taxi company to collect information about me and 
>>> my service animal. The law says that allergies and fear of dogs are 
>>> not reasons a driver can deny someone with a service animal. 
>>> Airlines also do not require notice of travel with a service animal.
>>> Aleeha
>>>
>>> Sent from Mail for Windows 10
>>>
>>> From: Ben Fulton via NABS-L
>>> Sent: Sunday, July 15, 2018 4:01 PM
>>> To: nabs-l at nfbnet.org
>>> Cc: Ben Fulton
>>> Subject: [NABS-L] NABS-L] Cab driver suspended
>>>
>>>
>>> I agree. This is totally unacceptable. I wish that cab companies 
>>> would start collecting information about whether the person 
>>> requesting the ride has a service animal, so the company could send 
>>> a driver who is not allergic. The data collection is lacking, and I 
>>> wonder if any of the cab companies even ask their drivers about
allergies.
>>>
>>> A number of airlines now ask about service dogs, and are quite 
>>> accommodating when given the proper notice. Cab companies need to 
>>> follow
>> suit.
>>> & what about the health risk that dog might experience riding in the
>> trunk.
>>> It seems like the dog might be breathing in more exhaust, it is 
>>> certainly not legal for people to ride in trunks. The cabbie should 
>>> have had dispatch send a replacement.
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> Date: Sat, 14 Jul 2018 16:20:40 +0000
>>> From: Armando Vias <a.vias at outlook.com>
>>> To: "nabs-l at nfbnet.org" <nabs-l at nfbnet.org>
>>> Subject: [NABS-L] Cab driver suspended
>>> Message-ID:
>>> 	
>>> <BL0PR01MB40340D4130120FB7695834AB9E5F0 at BL0PR01MB4034.prod.exchangel
>>> ab
>>> s.com>
>>> 	
>>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
>>>
>>> Hey guys. I just came across the story. A cab driver got suspended 
>>> for
>> this.
>>> It is about a blind woman and her service dog. Some of you might 
>>> have heard about this. I believe that this is wrong. This is totally 
>>> unacceptable. Here is the link.
>>> https://abcnews.go.com/Health/Allergy/allergic-cabbie-forces-eye-dog
>>> -r
>>> ide-tr
>>> unk-fined/story?id=13791380
>>>
>>> Sent from my iPhone
>>>
>>
>> _______________________________________________


-----Original Message-----
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Sent: July 30, 2018 8:00 AM
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Today's Topics:

   1. Question about punctuation (Emma Mitchell)
   2. Re: Question about punctuation (Seyoon Choi)
   3. Re: A technology recommendation for all of you (Seyoon Choi)


----------------------------------------------------------------------

Message: 1
Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2018 08:25:42 -0400
From: Emma Mitchell <emitchell927 at icloud.com>
To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list
	<nabs-l at nfbnet.org>
Subject: [NABS-L] Question about punctuation
Message-ID: <3D37777C-EA35-4A9B-B810-029A73EFE83E at icloud.com>
Content-Type: text/plain;	charset=utf-8

Hey, everyone?
Is there a way of proofreading a document with voiceover on the Mac? What
would you recommend listening for when writing a document like an essay or
paper?

Thank you!

Emma Jane Mitchell
emitchell927 at icloud.com
Phone: 202-322-4294
Proud member of The National Association of of Blind Students: a division of
The National Federation of The Blind



------------------------------

Message: 2
Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2018 15:41:25 +0000
From: Seyoon Choi <schoi09 at outlook.com>
To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list
	<nabs-l at nfbnet.org>
Subject: Re: [NABS-L] Question about punctuation
Message-ID:
	
<BN6PR2201MB15089A8AD3162102284DFEDEAB280 at BN6PR2201MB1508.namprd22.prod.outl
ook.com>
	
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

Command semicolon should do the trick on most word processing applications.
I know adding shift to that combo of shortcuts causes it to pop out a dialog
for spelling and grammar Check.

Hope this helps,

Regards
Seyoon,

Sent from my iPhone

> On Jul 29, 2018, at 7:27 AM, Emma Mitchell via NABS-L <nabs-l at nfbnet.org>
wrote:
> 
> Hey, everyone?
> Is there a way of proofreading a document with voiceover on the Mac? What
would you recommend listening for when writing a document like an essay or
paper?
> 
> Thank you!
> 
> Emma Jane Mitchell
> emitchell927 at icloud.com
> Phone: 202-322-4294
> Proud member of The National Association of of Blind Students: a 
> division of The National Federation of The Blind
> 
> _______________________________________________
> NABS-L mailing list
> NABS-L at nfbnet.org
> http://nfbnet.org/mailman/listinfo/nabs-l_nfbnet.org
> To unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info for
NABS-L:
> http://nfbnet.org/mailman/options/nabs-l_nfbnet.org/schoi09%40outlook.
> com

------------------------------

Message: 3
Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2018 23:23:10 +0000
From: Seyoon Choi <schoi09 at outlook.com>
To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list
	<nabs-l at nfbnet.org>
Subject: Re: [NABS-L] A technology recommendation for all of you
Message-ID:
	
<BN6PR2201MB15089A1F980835C5EB659E36AB280 at BN6PR2201MB1508.namprd22.prod.outl
ook.com>
	
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

Hi Cricket and all,
As I finally had a chance to sit down and catch up on some emails, this
story was honestly the one that was worth reading all the way through, and
in that regards, I see why Aira might have came so useful. As I had a chance
to finally attend my first NFB national convention this year in Orlando and
soon enough finding out about the fact that AIRA guest access was available,
I was eager to try the service myself. In addition, Aira rep at one point
showed up to a program that I was a part of prior to me flying to the
convention and I was well educated about the service at that point.  I
simply could not believe the excellence and usefulness that Aira provided at
the convention during my free usage, from me not getting lost as I try to
locate various ballrooms and around hotels? While advocacy and asking for
assistance is definitely a skill that should be maintained, I instantly
heavily became more and more interested about getting the subscription plan
as I begin to prepare my life towards college and for things to come next
year. I plan to not only apply for scholarships for AIRA subscriptions but
my hope is to get in touch with my VR councilor about my state rehab
possibly getting the service for those who requests it.

Seyoon
On Jul 28, 2018, at 10:41 PM, Santiago H via NABS-L
<nabs-l at nfbnet.org<mailto:nabs-l at nfbnet.org>> wrote:

Hi everyone,
In regards to Connor's point, if you don't have decent skills when it comes
to your independence, you won't be getting much out of Aira either. I think
it's a common misconception that Aira will help those greatly who have not
yet developed orientation and mobility skills and or daily living skills.
This, however; is not the case. Agents aren't going to tell you when to
cross the street, or when your food seems prepared if you are cooking. They
will alert you of what they see, and the choice and responsibility is yours.
Yes, advocacy is great, and I encourage it as well, but it's not going to
get you far if you were just handed an assignment at the last minute which
is not in an accessible format, or when you have to travel to a new location
without much further notice. I hope we have been able to clear up these
misconceptions about the service.

Santiago


Sent from my iPhone

On Jul 28, 2018, at 7:16 PM, Cricket X. Bidleman via NABS-L
<nabs-l at nfbnet.org<mailto:nabs-l at nfbnet.org>> wrote:

Hi Logan!

Excellent questions. Thank you. AIRA is a relatively new innovation so there
won't be as much information as you'd like. I will again refer you and
anyone else to Gelena Correia, whose email is
gelena.correia at aira.io<mailto:gelena.correia at aira.io>. She will be able to
answer your questions about scholarships and packaging and shipping stuff. I
can't unfortunately. I know that there may be some sponsorships available,
but I don't know the exact details on that yet. I would email her with
questions. Thank you for at least giving this technology a chance before
immediately dismissing it.

Best,
Cricket X. Bidleman (she/her/hers)
Stanford University | Class of 2021

On 7/28/18, Logan Anderson via NABS-L
<nabs-l at nfbnet.org<mailto:nabs-l at nfbnet.org>> wrote:
Hi all,
I have a couple practical questions about the service. I have decided to try
it, because I think my situation it would be useful. I have all the
practical skills to get by without it, but it would make many aspects of my
college life easier. I?ve heard great things about the service and excited
to try it out. However, I?m kind of confused. I signed up for it, but I have
never received anything back from the service about when my glasses will
actually be shipping. I?m not sure if this is normal, but it does concern
me. I live in an area where unfortunately package theft does happen
regularly, and I worry that if I don?t know when it comes it may disappear.
I guess my question is, has this happened to anyone else, is it normal?
Also, how does one find out about scholarship programs to pay for the
glasses and service? I have googled many times, but for whatever reason
there seems to be little to no information about it on the website.
Thank you,
Logan Patterson

Sent from my iPhone

On Jul 28, 2018, at 8:11 PM, Roanna Bacchus via NABS-L
<nabs-l at nfbnet.org<mailto:nabs-l at nfbnet.org>>
wrote:

Hi Cricket thanks for your message. I agree that Aira is a useful tool for
the blind. I have not personally used Aira, but I have heard lots of great
things about it.

On Jul 28, 2018 6:56 PM, "Cricket X. Bidleman via NABS-L"
<nabs-l at nfbnet.org<mailto:nabs-l at nfbnet.org>> wrote:

Hi Connor,

First of all, I welcome your perspective. I would, however, encourage you to
not make assumptions as to what I am and am not willing to do.
I mainly said what I did to illustrate the point that this technology is
helpful in many different areas of life. I never said that I am not willing
to self-advocate and I am, very much so, and I do. I would also encourage
others to self-advocate, but in situations where self-advocacy didn't happen
AIRA can be very helpful. That situation had aspects to it that I did not
feel the need to detail on email. No one should feel the need to give every
detail of everything on a public listserv. The point is that it's useful
during travel, and I think that point is muddled a bit by this discussion. I
would appreciate if we could drop this discussion here, in order to preserve
the integrity of what I was trying to say. Thanks.

I also want to point out that there's an amazing amount of misinformation
you can get by asking random people for directions.
Many people don?t know their left from their right, including RA's.
Some people will tell you that something is ?that way? or ?over there?, and
you can end up more confused than when you started.

As blind people, our time is just as valuable as anyone else?s, and if
someone trained in the information blind people need so they can navigate
efficiently is available any time it?s required, why not use a service that
will improve our efficiency. Also, if on the first day of campus there are a
lot of confused people around asking questions, being blind and having
access to trained assistance actually gives us a competitive advantage. Keep
that in mind.

Again, I appreciate the meat of what you're trying to say and I think that's
important to consider as we continue into higher education. I don't think,
however, that what you're trying to say applies to my situation and since I
was the one in my situation, so I do have the right to say that. Also,
please be aware that the way you presented your point was one that I could
take very personally and though I'm choosing not to, I would also encourage
you to be cognizant f that so as to offend as few people as possible.
Thanks.

Best,
Cricket X. Bidleman (she/her/hers)
Stanford University | Class of 2021

On 7/28/18, Roger Newell via NABS-L
<nabs-l at nfbnet.org<mailto:nabs-l at nfbnet.org>> wrote:
I don't see the distinction between asking an RA for assistance or using
Aira. Visual assistance was required, so why not use a perfectly good
service?

On 7/29/18, Connor Mullin via NABS-L
<nabs-l at nfbnet.org<mailto:nabs-l at nfbnet.org>> wrote:
Hi Cricket,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on AIRA. As a recipient of a NFB
scholarship, I will also enjoy nine months of minutes. However, I would like
to reflect on your story at Stanford.
I am anticipating using AIRA for tasks that are best solved by
self-directing visual aids, such as reading mail, reading library books for
research projects, and identifying the colors of clothing to then label them
tactilely. Yet, while I don't think relying on AIRA for travel assistance is
some kind of unforgivable sin, I would caution people from generally
recommending using AIRA in the way that you did at your first day at
Stanford. That is, you were hesitant to approach an RA for directions, even
though you knew they would be the most oriented, because you felt guilty
about bothering them. And I think that is an important hurdle for everyone
to reflect on, recognizing that fears of approaching people for directions
and highlighting your blindness is something that should not be passed over
when talking about being an independent blind person.
Now, I'm not saying you never have, before or after that day, overcome such
hesitations, nor am I saying that I have never psyched myself out of asking
authority figures for directions. Rather, I'm simply saying that we should
be careful not to inadvertently sell the benefits of AIRA as an alternative
to building peoples' advocacy and nonvisual skills.
Thank you once again for your thoughts.

Connor


-----Original Message-----
From: NABS-L <nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org<mailto:nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org>>
On Behalf Of Gary Wunder via NABS-L
Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2018 10:28 AM
To: 'National Association of Blind Students mailing list'
<nabs-l at nfbnet.org<mailto:nabs-l at nfbnet.org>>
Cc: Gary Wunder <garywunder at me.com<mailto:garywunder at me.com>>
Subject: Re: [NABS-L] A technology recommendation for all of you

What an interesting story. Thanks.

-----Original Message-----
From: NABS-L [mailto:nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Cricket X.
Bidleman via NABS-L
Sent: Monday, July 23, 2018 12:07 AM
To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list
Cc: Cricket X. Bidleman
Subject: [NABS-L] A technology recommendation for all of you

Hi all,

This is long. Please read it anyway. As of last July, I received the AIRA
Back-to-School award. Basically, this gave me free minutes on AIRA for nine
months, the last of which recently ended. (Endless thanks to Kathryn Webster
for being instrumental in that process.) I'll admit I was a little skeptical
because first of all, I didn't think I'd use it. I also knew they had
basically repurposed Google Glass, and Google Glass in its original form was
kind of a floppy failure... And then some.

So Cricket, where's that "recommendation" you promised us? Well, here it is.
I can say, through my own abundant use of the software in my first year of
college, that I sincerely feel that AIRA is revolutionizing instant access
to all areas of life. Accessibility is a huge issue for us as blind students
and though it's slowly being worked on in general, sometimes it's necessary
to have instant access to things. I'd call it "accessibility on demand"
or
something like that. One particular instance comes to mind.

I was incredibly overwhelmed. It was my first day at Stanford, September
19
of last year. My parents had just left me in a dorm full of people I didn't
know, in a place I'd never been to. I was walking around, trying not to bump
into things, when I mentally slapped myself for forgetting that I had an a
capella audition, and then another one, and then a choir audition, and then
a meeting with my pre-major advisor. I really didn't want to be the problem
child constantly asking for help from the RA's who, quite frankly, had more
than enough disoriented freshmen to deal with. So, because I'm so brilliant,
I walked out of my dorm with my cane, wearing a black dress and high heels,
into 90 degree weather. I made it all the way down the hill by my dorm and
then I had to mentally slap myself again because I realized something...
I
didn't know the campus at all. I walked around a bit, and then got turned
around, and then got lost, and then got even more lost. There were freshmen
everywhere, but they were all lost too, and a bunch of them gave me
atrociously  wrong directions. I called AIRA and in five minutes, they had
me straightened out and going in the right direction. Turned out I was on
the opposite side of campus from where I was supposed to be. Thanks, all you
disoriented freshmen...

Let me tell you something about Stanford campus. you know how like every
sane person designing a college campus makes them arranged like city blocks?
There are clear streets, buildings are arranged in grid patterns, they're in
numerical order... Stanford's designer must have been crazy, because this
campus is not like that at all. There are twists and turns everywhere and
though there are a couple of main streets here and there, most of the campus
isn't even nearly accessible by car, much less by some lost blind student.
Google Maps doesn't really help, so my AIRA agent (Emma) was
cross-referencing three different maps while trying to keep an eye on me so
I wouldn't step in a fountain. Yes, that is a possibility here. People
actually jump in fountains for fun. Emma is phenomenal, and managed to get
me to my audition on time. Part of that was because, by some happy
coincidence, I'd left three hours early, but even so I was rushing at the
end. At least I made it, sore feet and all.

Anyway since then, I've had many experiences with AIRA, and all of them have
ended up positive. One time I was chasing down a Uber because it wanted to
ditch me... One time I was cramming for a test with a textbook that I hadn't
gotten in Braille on time since it was my first quarter here. One time an
agent was reading Plato's Republic to me when I may or may not have taken a
nap, and they may or may not have had to wake me up. They were really nice
about it though. You know these people are awesome when they can even
pronounce pars opercularis properly. I can't even do that. (That's an
essential part of the brain involved in language processing by the
way.)
And
once they were able to describe, in extreme detail, a brain diagram I was
studying for psychology. I later got the Braille diagram, and it was nowhere
near as detailed as the AIRA agent's description.

So my point is, please do yourself a huge favor and get AIRA. You can get
funding for it from the Department of Rehab. Or scholarship money can go
toward it, or you can apply for their scholarships. I promise you it will be
integral as you go through education and life in general. If my word isn't
enough, and even if it is, I fully encourage you to check out this blog post
by Jonathan Mosen. He's a technology consultant who has way more experience
than me. He's worked with Humanware and Freedom Scientific, and for many
years has run his own consulting company. He designs websites, travels a
lot, runs several podcasts and a radio station, writes books, and is pretty
much the kind of person many of us aspire to emulate in terms of success.
He
uses AIRA and in this post, talks about how powerfully this innovative
solution has impacted his life. Please give it a read--I promise it will
change your outlook. https://mosen.org/aira/

Best,
Cricket X. Bidleman (she/her/hers)
Stanford University | Class of 2021

P.S. If you have Emma as your AIRA agent, tell her I said hello. :)

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