Sharing is caring

I am feeling the summer sadness. I am supposed to be getting ready for a trip to Alaska right now, but like everyone else I’m stuck at home thinking about travel. My dad used to call it having itchy moccasins – yes, he was Native American. I love to travel near and far and it makes me happy to be able to report back to my readers about my adventures. This isn’t going to be another blog post whining about not being able to travel however, today I’d like to take our time together to talk about how you can help others with your knowledge.

Sharing is caring

This website came out of a large curated list of notes I kept when I traveled to new locations. Each time I visited someplace I’d write down the location of the check in desk in the lobby, where the food was and even the bathrooms. This became a cheat sheet for me to use when I visited a location again. After a while, it dawned on me that I had created a list of important information that travel review sites like TripAdvisor don’t offer. Sure, there are travel tips out there for blind and visually impaired travelers, but until now nothing that told me where things are in a property. I took the knowledge I had accumulated after years of travel and created this website, and it continues to grow, and makes me happy to have a platform to share with you. 

COVID-19 additions

Since the lockdown and subsequent inability to travel, I have taken time to expand the content here on Blind Travels to include educational materials geared toward those who are fully sighted. A visually impaired person has a unique view of the situation around them, and I am happy to give space here on the site to help those who are fully sighted learn to interact more effectively with those of us who are blind and visually impaired. The new series I have started “Questions with a blind person” gives fully sighted visitors who have questions about being blind a safe place to ask them. I get questions all the time via email and twitter, and love to take time here to answer them here on the site. Being blind is a bit of a mystery to many people and I love that I can offer a space here to answer questions about living daily while visually impaired.

What can you do?

If you are visually impaired, share your knowledge. Write an article, start a blog, or offer to answer questions on social media about being blind or visually impaired. Be aware that you will get some really silly questions and some rude ones too. Have a thick skin and have fun with it.  I’d love to offer this space up for guest bloggers. If you are interested in creating a post for this blog that answers a question, or offers a travel tip or review of a destination I would love to share it with my readers. I’m happy to give full credit to the post and links back to your social media, blog or website. If you don’t have a place to post it online, I’m happy to post it here. Follow me on twitter and drop me a message or use the contact form here on Blind Travels. I have found it incredibly rewarding to share knowledge with others. 

If you are fully sighted and have questions about the blind community or what it is like to be blind, feel free to drop me a message on Twitter or use the form here. Starting a respectful conversation is the best way for everyone to learn more about each other. It is ok to talk to blind people, it is perfectly acceptable to ask what is it like to… or how do you…

I love to hear from my readers! Please follow me on my social media links below and I will happily follow you back. If you have any questions about this or any other article here on Blind Travels, don’t hesitate to drop e a message.

My Photography: http://www.tahquechi.com

Instagram and Twitter: @nedskee


Artists supporting disabled artists.

Blind Travels dog logo

All of the photography here on Blind Travels was taken by me. I have degrees in Fine Art Photography and Studio Art Photography,  when I finished my degrees I spent years trying to find a gallery that would exhibit my work. The area I lived in had an art community that was very difficult to break into and it wasn’t until a few years after struggling to get my art shown that someone finally believed in me and was willing to give me a chance. Once my work was shown, the dam broke and since that time my work has been featured all over the world in magazines and news broadcasts. I am so grateful for being given the opportunity to show my work and I have struggled to find a way to give back to the art community so that other disabled artists do not have to endure the troubles I did to get that first show. My online virtual gallery started a few years ago is now accepting submissions for art from disabled artists.

Disabled Art is a virtual gallery featuring art exclusively from disabled artists.  The exhibitions rotate featured artists shows every 90 days and featured artists work is displayed on the front page of the gallery. If you are a disabled artist or you know one please let them know about this opportunity. All the information you need can be found at the link below.

Show your work

 


Three quesitons with a blind person part 3

Fauna the black lab guide dog wearing a st. paddies hat.

I just published part three of my series “Three questions with a blind person” Please feel free to pass this series along. I’m interested to hear what you think about this series, did I get it right? is there something you would like to share the answer to with my sighted readers? Feel free to drop me a message and let me know. The best way to make things better for everyone is to provide positive education about those of us who are visually impaired. 

Three Questions with a blind person – part 3


Guide Dog tips – something special

With many states lifting travel restrictions, it is time to think about how you can make the transition back into traveling easier for your guide dog. Whether I am traveling across town or across the country, I always have a backpack with a few things my guide could use “just in case”. I always have a ration of food in case I get stuck somewhere, as well as waste pickup bags and a special toy.

Many of our guides have gotten used to more downtime with the Coronavirus restrictions, so as we open up and begin traveling, I have employed a trick to make travel time a bit more special. I always carry a special flavored bone in my bag of tricks. My guide Fauna loves the peanut butter flavored Nyla bones, so I porously do not provide them for her to chew when we are home. She has a couple other flavors, but I always save the PeanutButter ones for travel. When we reach our destination, or even just take a break from a difficult route I take out the PeanutButter bone and let her enjoy it for a while. IT is such a simple thing and I don’t feel like I am keeping her from enjoying her favorite toy, rather I consider it as making the time she gets to spend with that toy a bit more special.

Here is a link to the bone I use. I have found the Nylabone brand lasts longer than most dog bones, especially since my guide is an extreme chewer.

I love to hear from my readers! Please follow me on my social media links below and I will happily follow you back. If you have any questions about this or any other article here on Blind Travels, don’t hesitate to drop e a message.

My Photography: http://www.tahquechi.com

Instagram and Twitter: @nedskee


Come see my photography!

It is with great joy that I announce the extension of my Landscapes of the Body photography exhibition through the end of the year at the Lighthouse for the Blind gallery located at 1155 Market Street in San Francisco ca. If you find yourself in San Francisco, please stop by and see the exhibition. Specially developed tactile-friendly prints have been installed to accompany the images. If you get a chance to check out the show I would love to hear what you think!

If you would like more information about Landscapes of the Body check out this link

Fauna ready to travel

Landscapes of the Body


Pennsylvania to launch new voting method for visually impaired for next week’s primary

This is a travel and tech blog for the blind and visually impaired, so while this story meets the technical criteria for inclusion, I strive to make this a totally non-political website. I figure that if you are looking for politics there are a million and one other sources for that stuff. This story deals with something that should have been resolved long ago, no, not daylight saving time, voting. It seems like every four years w come around to the conversation that the current system for voting in inherently unfair to the blind and visually impaired. Someone says we should get that fixed before the next election and it never happens – just like daylight savings time. Paper ballots, and the excuse that someone can come into the polling booth and help read and choose your candidate are reinforced by the fact that our constitution does not guarantee the right to a secret ballot. So this isn’t a political issue it is first and foremost an accessibility issue. 

For more information on your vote not being as secret as you might think here is a good article with supreme court callouts to support their claims. https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2017/08/11/voting-public-or-private-act-your-ballot-not-secret-you-think

We are six months away from the presidential election, and the primaries for each state are well underway, this means that it is time for lawmakers to start the panic about the lack of accessibility for disabled voters. It is funny that the COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted technology which will help the blind and visually impaired years ahead of where it was before the virus hit our shores. I have always said that technology or accessibility infrastructures put in place almost always benefit the sighted and make their life more convenient as well. It is just a shame that a global pandemic had to be the catalyst for improving accessible and distance connectivity technologies. 

Pennsylvania will launch a new voting method for visually impaired voters for next week’s primary. As long as the voters are registered by the appropriate date and time they will be allowed to access the ballot for the primary via a secure server. The user will be allowed to make their choice then print out the ballot and return it to their polling station. This sounds like a reasonable option. I still strongly believe that we as a nation need to come up with a universal accessibility option to make voting work for all. 

Here is a link to the article about Pennsylvania and their voting system being implemented

warehouse-content

 


Cool ultrasonic speaker techology lets braille readers read in mid-air

This is a great advancement, I can really see this benefiting so many. The added bonus with the social distancing is that we don’t have t come in contact with a surface that has been manhandled by so many others. I hope this technology can evolve and be implemented in many public kiosks and ATM machines. It may be a bit of shock, because the ultrasonic speakers “project” the braille dots onto the palm when it is held about 20 centimetres away from the display. I can’t wait to try this tech!

Here is a link to the original article for your reading pleasure. 

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2244446-ultrasonic-speakers-let-people-who-are-blind-read-braille-in-mid-air/

 


Guide Dogs and Coronavirus

Fauna being safe

My guide dog Fauna has a habit of engaging with people when we are out and about. She won’t actually go up to them or elicit attention, but she is very attentive and when we are not walking she is making eye contact with people around her. This habit tends to make people think that she wants their attention and they talk to her or me. Just yesterday while in the grocery store we reached the cashier with our cart and I instructed her to sit while I paid for the groceries. My son, who was with me told me that she was making eye contact with the gentleman bagging our groceries and he asked if he could pet her. I generally don’t let people pet my guide, and I realized that the pandemic has made it easier than ever to “let people down” when they ask. 

For my safety

The CDC, as of this writing has issued guidelines for pets during this pandemic. Generally, they say that they are still learning about the virus and how it is most effectively transmitted. This seems to change daily, which is not unusual because they are working and discovering new things about this virus every day.  From their website, the CDC says the following about pets and the virus:

  • We do not know the exact source of the current outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), but we know that it originally came from an animal source.
  • At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.
  • We are still learning about this virus, but it appears that it can spread from people to animals in some situations.

It makes sense that anyone petting your dog can leave the virus on their fur. The likelihood of transmission to you may be small, but I would rather just say that the virus is a great reason to not allow anyone to pet my guide. I explain to people that especially during the pandemic, I don;t let anyone pet my guide for my safety and theirs. This usually works fine. It is tough, guides like the attention and people like to pet dogs. If you would like to read the Covid and pets guidelines from the CDC here is a link:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html

Hey! I love to hear from my readers! Feel free to contact me via my social media sites I would love to hear your thoughts on this or any of my other articles! If you follow me, I will happily follow you back.  

My Photography site: http://www.tahquechi.com/

My Bodyscapes project: http://www.bodyscapes.photography/

My travel site: https://www.blindtravels.com/

Instagram and Twitter: @nedskee


Starting to open back up.

Fauna being safe

This has been a trying couple of months for the travel industry. I had three trips cancelled due to the pandemic, I currently have more travel booked and I fear that it will also be cancelled. I am a mature adult and realize that this shutdown is not all about me, I find it sad that the whole situation has to be about politics rather than rallying together to protect the more vulnerable members of the population. Now, this blog is non-political so I am not going to bring my opinions into this situation, I am only going to reiterate that we needed to do this to save lives in the midst of a virus with no vaccine. That is the real point that many are overlooking. While we rush to reopen everything, we need to be fully cognoscenti of the fact that it doesn’t matter which side of the aisle you are on in terms of politics with the reopening,  the fact remains that we don’t have a vaccine yet and if you are at higher risk for infection you need to be careful. So, how am I handling the situation?

  We have been here before

After 9/11 the travel industry was rocked and scrambled to implement new stricter security standards, and guess what? we got used to it. Amid the reopening of travel industries like airlines, cruises and hotels, new measures are being put in place to ensure safety, and guess what? we will get used to it. The proposed changes include limiting passengers ability to gather in mass, hand sanitizing and washing everywhere and touch-less functionality wherever possible. Crews will be required to perform additional cleaning everywhere and I would bet at first that temperature checks will be in place to ensure nobody flies with a fever. Just like the days after 9/11, things will be different, and you will have to get used to the “new normal” but you will get used to it. Expect to be required to fly with a mask and perhaps gloves at first, but once the vaccine is available things will relax I am sure. Some are saying that there is a possibility that there might never be a vaccine, but I don’t subscribe to that thinking. We have over 100 vaccine trials underway worldwide as of this writing, the scientific communities of most of the world are working toward a common goal and I am confident that a vaccine will be finalized, whether it will be this year is hard to say. Remember though that there also teams working diligently to create a reliable course of treatment. With treatment, at least if you get it, you can likely get through the worst part of the virus and not be forced to endure being put on a ventilator.

I honestly have no issues flying with a mask on or gloves or whatever. It is an inconvenience, but the alternative is to not go on my trip. Generally, traveling is an inconvenience, it is really all about the destination. If I have to endure temperature checks and stand six feet from my fellow passengers to be able to get to my destination, then I see it as a necessary evil and part of our new normal. Things will always err on the side of safety and caution, then relax as time goes by. I remember the invasive feeling of having to take off my belt and shoes and completely empty my pockets before boarding a plane after 9/11. These days if I don’t have to take off my shoes it seems odd to me. We will get through this and we will adapt. 

But what about me? 

I had a month long trip to Alaska scheduled for August this year. I planned to explore Alaska for a week on each side of my two week long cruise on Princess Cruise Lines. About a week ago, I got the email informing me that all their cruises to Alaska have been cancelled for the year. This trip was on my bucket list for locations to visit, am I sad? well of course, but I will re-book eventually and get to go. The thing that I think about though is the impact to all the workers that rely on the cruise industry visiting Alaska. Princess operates a hotel complex and a transport infrastructure in Alaska including buses and trains. This means all of those workers are going to miss a whole season of work. The port shops and shore trips industry are also being impacted by the decision to cancel the Alaska cruises this year. I am going to be just fine, but I worry about all those that rely on the cruise industry as their source of income. This is true for every port around the world, and every hotel that has been affected by this global pandemic. 

I also had a couple smaller trips scheduled which were cancelled, Las Vegas and Kentucky to travel the bourbon trail, both of which can be rescheduled at any time. I try to not think about my inability to go to the places I want to go, but rather how the travel industry as a whole is being affected by all of this. If you would like to read more about the changes in travel regulations coming up here is a good article I found. 

New Travel Guidelines

I love to hear from my readers! follow me on Instagram and Twitter @nedskee and drop me a message letting me know how this pandemic has affected your travel plans and what you are doing to get through it. 

My Photography site: http://www.tahquechi.com/

My Bodyscapes project: http://www.bodyscapes.photography/

My travel site: https://www.blindtravels.com/

Instagram and Twitter: @nedskee


Thank you Hadley School for the Blind!

Blind Travels dog logo

A big thank you to Haldey school for the Blind for interviewing me about Amtrak travel with a guide dog. You can tune into Hadley’s Travel Talk at: https://www.hadley.edu/ I appeared on the April 23rd show and we talked about the whole process of Amtrak travel from start to finish. Train travel can be a lot of fun, and works well with a guide dog. 


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