[Ohio-talk] Deborah Kendrick Column Please read

Marianne Denning marianne at denningweb.com
Tue Oct 6 16:15:23 UTC 2015


Deborah, you did an excellent job of making us feel what you were
feeling. It did bring back the memories of my negative trips.

On 10/6/15, Deborah Kendrick via Ohio-talk <ohio-talk at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> Dear Barbara,
> Thank you for zooming in on exactly the part that I wanted most to get
> right!
> I was so depleted.
> I've had a handful of perfect airport experiences since that one in late
> August, but the negative ones can really shake a person's sense of self.
> If you had time to write a letter to the editor, it would go a long way in
> the education department.
> Peace,
> Deborah
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ohio-talk [mailto:ohio-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of
> barbara.pierce9366--- via Ohio-talk
> Sent: Tuesday, October 06, 2015 8:00 AM
> To: NFB of Ohio Announcement and Discussion List
> Cc: barbara.pierce9366 at gmail.com
> Subject: Re: [Ohio-talk] Deborah Kendrick Column Please read
>
> 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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>
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-- 
Marianne Denning, TVI, MA
Teacher of students who are blind or visually impaired
(513) 607-6053



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