[Ohio-talk] Deborah Kendrick Column Please read

Marianne Denning marianne at denningweb.com
Tue Oct 6 16:13:44 UTC 2015


You are so right about that Barbara.  I don't think the Philadelphia
airport will ever let me back in again because of the reputation I
earned on my last trip through there.  (smile)

On 10/6/15, barbara.pierce9366--- via Ohio-talk <ohio-talk at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> This is a home run. I love the way you capture the exhaustion and
> desperation. These things never seem to happen when we are fresh and
> patient.
>
> Barbara
> Barbara Pierce
> President Emerita
> National Federation of the Blind of Ohio
> Barbara.pierce9366 at gmail.com
> 440-774-8077
> The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the
> characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day we raise the
> expectations of blind people, because low expectations create obstacles
> between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you zwant;
> blindness is not what holds you back.
>
>> On Oct 5, 2015, at 10:26 PM, Marianne Denning via Ohio-talk
>> <ohio-talk at nfbnet.org> wrote:
>>
>> This is excellent and so true.  Next step, what can we do about this?
>> I have had the same thing happen on many occasions.
>>
>> On 10/5/15, Eric Duffy via Ohio-talk <ohio-talk at nfbnet.org> wrote:
>>> This is a good read. The problem Deborah describes continues to be a
>>> problem
>>> for many of us. Spread the word. Let people know that Deborah’s
>>> experience
>>> is not an    isolated incident. .
>>>
>>> Eric
>>>
>>> Deborah Kendrick commentary: Airports can mean humiliation for some
>>> travelers. A recent midnight flight from San Francisco to Cincinnati held
>>> the elements all blind travelers dread most: The moment when one
>>> disability
>>> is mistaken for another, and deep-rooted misconceptions engender
>>> humiliation. When the last plane landed, I'd been traveling for 13 hours.
>>> It
>>> was 11:00 a.m., and I was exhausted. Here is the scenario. My ride home
>>> is
>>> in the cell phone lot. I ask the gate agent if someone can walk with me.
>>> This is a simple enough request and one I have made hundreds of times in
>>> dozens of airports. I am a blind person carrying a long white cane. My
>>> request is for someone to walk with me who knows the way. The gate agent
>>> is
>>> smart, courteous, eager to assist. She makes the call. ... And another.
>>> ...
>>> And another. When five minutes has gone by, I am impatient. At ten, I am
>>> agitated. At twenty, with a red-eye flight behind me and the knowledge
>>> that
>>> my ride home is just a few minutes' walk away, I am close to meltdown. I
>>> hear the agent say into the phone, "No, she doesn't need a wheelchair.
>>> Just
>>> needs someone to walk with her. At 25 minutes, the somewhat embarrassed
>>> gate
>>> agent comes over where I am leaning on the wall, trying not to cry,
>>> wishing
>>> I weren't so tired and could just start walking, exploring, figuring it
>>> out.
>>> "The problem," she informs me, "is that they won't come unless you will
>>> sit
>>> in the wheelchair. She is apologetic, sees the folly of this supposed
>>> "rule". But I am ready to disassemble with fatigue and humiliation and
>>> thus
>>> I acquiesce. The young woman who comes with the wheelchair tells me that
>>> if
>>> I don't sit in it, she will be fired. She will either leave me here or I
>>> will ride. I sit down. For the half-mile distance from gate to exit, I
>>> pray
>>> no one sees me who knows me. Don't get me wrong. There is no shame in
>>> using
>>> a wheelchair. For my friends who use them with purpose, the wheelchair is
>>> a
>>> tool of freedom and flight and euphoria. No, for me, the shame was rooted
>>> in
>>> the fear that others would think me a shirker, a faker, a jerk able to
>>> walk
>>> who commandeered some deserving passenger's wheelchair. The subtext here,
>>> the message conveyed, is this: Because I happen to be blind, I am not
>>> worthy
>>> of the same respect as any other paying passenger. If I need assistance,
>>> I
>>> will shut up, sit down, be addressed like a child (or piece of
>>> furniture),
>>> and be grateful. This, regrettably, is not an isolated incident. I have
>>> scores of stories from others - blind lawyers, athletes, and CEO's --
>>> recounting similar nightmares. Kaiti Shelton, a University of Dayton
>>> music
>>> therapy major, returned from a college abroad trip in June. The emotional
>>> high sparked by success in another country, the joy of having been
>>> treated
>>> as an equal by the residents there and her fellow college students,
>>> plummeted quickly in an American airport. She, too, was given the
>>> ultimatum
>>> "no wheelchair, no assistance. Eric Duffy of Columbus, president of the
>>> National Federation of the Blind of Ohio, says the wheelchair argument
>>> has
>>> happened more times than he can count. "I can be coming back from a
>>> powerfully positive experience, meeting with members of Congress on
>>> Capitol
>>> Hill or participating in negotiations with other leaders, and then the
>>> [emotional] balance shifts at the airport. The disrespect leaves me
>>> feeling
>>> insulted and angry. The only consistency in flying, if you happen to be
>>> blind, is inconsistency. Sometimes, the curb to curb process is rich with
>>> encounters of mutual respect, jumpstarting your business trip or vacation
>>> with a general love of humankind. Another time, the misconceptions held
>>> by
>>> airport workers result in degradation. You are grabbed, pulled, talked
>>> about
>>> in the third person, and given inappropriate "assistance". One TSA worker
>>> might allow you to move through the line without any particular notice,
>>> while another wants to hold your hands and talk to you in the sing-song
>>> tones reserved for preschoolers. One flight attendant might order you
>>> into
>>> the bulkhead row while another just as quickly orders you out of it. One
>>> day
>>> you might ask for someone to walk to the gate with you and the employee
>>> who
>>> arrives is so engaging that you have exchanged life stories by the time
>>> you
>>> arrive. And another day, the request results in a stripping of dignity.
>>> Disability awareness varies widely from one airline/airport to another.
>>> Not
>>> surprisingly, that difference seems to be in direct correlation to the
>>> source of training for employees. If you want to know how best to treat
>>> people with disabilities, ask them. And then listen to what they say.
>>> Deborah Kendrick is a Cincinnati writer and advocate for people with
>>> disabilities. .
>>>
>>>
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>>
>>
>> --
>> Marianne Denning, TVI, MA
>> Teacher of students who are blind or visually impaired
>> (513) 607-6053
>>
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-- 
Marianne Denning, TVI, MA
Teacher of students who are blind or visually impaired
(513) 607-6053



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