Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Airport Follies

By kl1964

Last night I was flying home after visiting a friend for a few days. I needed to change planes in Los Angeles on the way. I requested assistance to get to my next gate, since it was in a different concourse. Those of you who regularly fly can probably guess what happened next. I hadn't gotten three steps down the jetway before I was met with an airport attendant in possession of...all together now...a wheelchair! I protested, saying I could walk just fine, I had been walking just fine, I just needed assistance to the gate. I may as well have been talking to a brick wall. "No no. Wheelchair easier." Ack! It didn't take me long to realize that arguing wasn't going to get me anywhere so into the chair I climbed, my anger quotient rising every second. I kept insisting that I didn't need this, I could walk, I wanted to walk, no effect. I'm sorry to say my tone of voice probably got somewhat, um, shrill. One thing I can't stand is the feeling that nobody is listening to me. When we got to the gate, I'm afraid I barked my answer at the gate attendant when she asked if I needed a wheelchair assist onto the plane. To her credit, she did ask me the question. I've just never been able to figure this out. I've been flying independently for over thirty years, and in all that time you'd think service would have gotten better. But it hasn't, in fact if anything it's gotten worse. I don't understand why, to some airport personnel, assistance automatically means wheelchair. My legs work just fine, and what if there's someone behind me who really, really needs one and they're one short because they're insisting I ride in one? Just doesn't make sense to me, and it sure has a tendency to make the experience of flying even more of a pain than it already is.

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