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What it’s like to travel as a blind person

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Can you imagine, navigating your way around an airport or train station with its cacophony of sounds, smells and neverending terminals? Escalator zigzagging across the platforms, negotiating cases and buggies all the while listening intently in case the next announcement over the tannoy is for you? Thankfully, most of the coordination is down to Ida, and passenger assistance is a lifeline for me as a blind traveller. It gives me the freedom to travel where and when I want, and have a smooth, stress-free journey.

It’s not all a seamless VIP experience, though. At airports, you have to arrive an hour before your non-disabled peers, wait landside for an undetermined amount of time until enough of you are booked onto the system, and then get shuttled through security like cattle until you reach the ‘disabled access zone’, usually with barely enough time to grab yourself a drink or go to the toilet. I wish all airports and train stations had tactile guidelines to each check-in desk, Bluetooth beacons that could work with your smartphone, and audio described blueprints of each airport map so I could investigate and orientate myself ahead of time.

Technology has advanced so much in the last two years alone that apps like Be My Eyes, Soundscape, Seeing AI naviLens and Good Maps exist – however they all rely on having both signal and data to work, lengthy logistics and implementation (in the case of NaviLens or Good Maps), not to mention the exorbitant rates of which your phone battery uses as you try to locate a sign in the first place. This is why I feel it’s imperative for all websites to have easy to access, clear and up-to-date facts so disabled people can have autonomy over their travels.

I love being a blind traveller, I get to experience this beautiful earth in a completely different way to my peers, and when I travel with others, I get to see the world through their eyes and words. I feel privileged to be blind in today’s era, the combination of technology and humanity is a perfect antidote to realising that this globe is a lot smaller than you think and we are all not too different from each other after all. 

 

Learn more about Sassy by visiting her website blindgirladventures.com, or follow her adventures on Instagram and YouTube.

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