Travel planning for the visually impaired

Travel planning for the visually impaired

Travelling may seem like something that has become part and parcel of our fast-paced lives. Be it to attend a business conference or purely for leisure, undertaking such journeys may seem like no big task for an ordinary person. One is probably acquainted with the paths from the terminal entrances to the boarding gates of the airport in the city he/she lives in.

The situation is entirely different for someone who is visually impaired. Most points of arrival and departure, or even tourist locations, depend on visual aids in the form of signboards to allow visitors or passengers to navigate them to their desired location. This is why it soon becomes clear that something extra needs to be done if a visually impaired person wishes to travel to some destination of his/her choice.

There are some simple measures one can take to ensure that the journey goes smoothly. It is always recommended to travel in groups or with someone with prior knowledge of the overall process. If traveling by air, it is advisable to contact the airline beforehand. Most airlines have protocols in place to help disabled passengers navigate their way around an airport, as well as board and deboard an aircraft or shuttle bus. This guiding hand is a big boon for visually impaired passengers, especially those flying for the first time. If one is traveling with a guide animal, one must get acquainted with the procedure to declare the same, which may vary from region to region. It is essential to notify the respective airlines well in advance to avoid any potential delays or confusion at the airport. Another nifty idea is to keep all important documents within easy reach. It is always advisable to carry complete written addresses of the locations that are to be visited so that people from the area can guide you as accurately as possible.

There are some steps which those of us gifted with sight can take to help our visually impaired fellow passengers or friends. If you see someone at a tourist location that seems to need help, approach them and inquire if they require assistance. Likewise, some may find difficulty in day-to-day situations like hailing a taxi, in which case you must act as a helping hand. Every little helping hand we extend is another step closer towards ensuring that our disabled friends will have a happy and safe journey which they will cherish for the rest of their lives!

“If we have relegated vision solely to a function of the eyes, we are blind indeed.” ? Craig D. Lounsbrough            

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