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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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Terror at Security Checkpoints

by Donna J. Jodhan

With more and more security checks being implemented at airports across North America and indeed at major airports around the world, it is becoming scarier for those of us who are blind and visually impaired.

I ran into a very scary episode recently at Toronto's major airport; Pearson International airport. When I got to the security checkpoint, I placed my carry-on bag along with my cane and jacket into the plastic box as instructed but the fun started after I walked through the tiny tunnel. For a better way to describe it, the tiny enclosure that one has to go through before a security agent pats you down.

Without any warning, I was told that my bag had to be searched because they found chemicals on it and in addition I had to be given an entire body search. Nothing too out of the ordinary with all of this except for: I felt completely helpless without my cane and I am quite aware that they had to x-ray my cane but what most mainstream persons of the sighted world do not understand is this: A cane is practically part of a blind person's physical being or make up. Take it away from them without warning and the blind person becomes extremely anxious and starts to develop feelings of helplessness and if not explained properly as to why it has been taken away then the blind person can often become extremely stressed. A feeling of nakedness without my cane is how I felt.

A cane gives me confidence. It enables me to find my way. It helps me to feel secure; somewhat like having a security blanket. Take it away from me and I am left to negotiate my way blindly as they would say and when a blind person has their cane taken away from them in unfamiliar territory it is thrice as bad. Add to all of this the stress of having to deal with unfriendly security agents and you have just created a powder keg for disaster.

If you would like to learn more about how and why blind persons use canes and where you can purchase one, please visit either or

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and encouraging you to go out there and tell the world that yes indeed! Blind persons can certainly enjoy things by using their sense of touch. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all:
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility:
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns:

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