Any time I travel alone on an airline I always call ahead to request assistance and I always have my white ID cane in hand when I arrive. I only carry the cane so people recognize my blindness, as it is not apparent. It usually serves its intended purpose however, once people notice that I can see quite a bit, the cane as a symbol sometimes seems to lose its validity.
On my recent trip, since carrying the cane along with luggage can be a challenge, I decided to try going without it.
So when I called to inform the airline that I’m a disabled traveler and would need assistance, I told them that I don’t use a white cane but that I wear a checkered eye symbol instead. I informed them that this was a wearable symbol for low vision and that they could see it at checkeredeye.com.
Since I had made arrangements for assistance by phone there was no need to make explanations to the service personnel once we met. I took each opportunity to ask these staff members if they already knew the checkered eye and to my delight, some of them did.
So the checkered eye was as effective as the ID cane in regards to the assistive staff. The only time I used the ID cane was when, after an assistant had shown me where the ladies room was and I told her I could find my way back to the waiting area, I had it in hand so the other travelers would allow me back into the “special” seating area without explanation. I was very glad I had the white cane for that situation because it was a very crowded time and people had moved into the area where we disabled travelers had been placed, including into my seat. As soon as they saw me with my cane they very politely excused themselves. Phew!
I am now reaching out to cruise lines in hopes that they also will accept checkered eye information to distribute to their staff and be able to add that bit of understanding to customer care for their demographic which likely has a relatively high percentage of people with low vision. Fingers crossed!
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