May 01, 2013

Traveling with a Disability

Scott C. LaBarre

I was surprised when I first received the request to write this article, and my next statement will require some explanation. To me, traveling with a disability is no big deal, unless others make it so.

By way of background, the reader should know that I am totally blind and have been so since age ten, some 34 years ago or so. The reader should also know that I am a sole practitioner with a successful national practice that even requires some international travel at times. Because of this, I travel quite frequently, to the point where I am a Premier 1K on United Airlines. In short, I am quite accustomed to the inconveniences of travel, and I do not believe that these inconveniences are that much greater for me as a blind person.

To most, the latter statement is astonishing. Countless fellow travelers tell me how amazing and courageous I am for traveling by myself throughout the world. I know that these comments are well meant, but they vastly underestimate my capacity as a human being and bestow credit upon me for accomplishing some rather pedestrian tasks such as getting from the front of the airport to the gate or wherever. This is so because once a blind person has appropriate training in blindness skills and possesses a positive attitude, traveling independently is readily achievable. The biggest barrier we face is that of the misunderstandings and misconceptions possessed by those who are not disabled.

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