Howdy, all! Today marks another milestone in Disabled Travelers history, as it’s our first-ever blind travel edition. Since I first started writing around here, the Disabled Travelers blog has become one of the top results for “deaf travel,” and I’ve gotten lots of wonderful letters from folks from every walk of life – so I hope that I’ll be able to help out just as much with our friends out there who have visual impairments. There sure is a lot to cover, so look for a continuation pretty soon!
From Access-Able Travel Source, which has been providing accessible travel info pretty much since the dawn of the web in 1996, we start out with Travel Tips for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired. A lot of these points will be familiar to travelers who face other physical challenges, but there are some real gems here specific to those with low vision or who use service animals. You can also jump back to the Travel Tips index for more, including a dedicated Service Animals page.
Blind travelers and their travel companions should consider Traveleyes, one of the only tour operators out there that focuses specifically on developing accessible tour itineraries for the blind. The website includes lots of audio for independent blind travelers, and sighted travelers can also get in on the fun at discounted rates. Traveleyes’ offerings are pretty impressive, and even include Austrian ski trips customized for low-sight skiers.
If Traveleyes isn’t quite right for you, you may have better results with Vitalise Holidays, a UK-based charity that has provided accessible, blindness-friendly vacations in diverse locales including the Australian Outback, South Africa, and Costa Rica. UK residents can also enjoy a range of different hobbies, from salsa dancing to horseback riding.
If you’re considering independent travel for the first time, you might wonder if the challenge is worth it. If you’re worried that you might not be able to realize your travel goals with a visual impairment, worry no more. Just check out this October, 2010 report from AZCentral, a major hub for news in Arizona: Blind Hikers Travel the Grand Canyon from Rim to Rim. That’s two vertical miles across terrain that avid, sighted hikers are usually advised to avoid! Makes other trips seem a little easier, doesn’t it?
I’m pleased to report there are actually quite a few movers and shakers in the travel world doing their best to make things easier, faster, and more enjoyable for the blind. Over at Michael Janger Consulting, the profoundly deaf business guru and MBA holder is discussing Making Travel Websites Accessible to Blind Travelers. While much of what Michael has to say focuses on what the industry should be doing, you can also find a lot of stuff that pertains directly to helping users with disabilities enhance their technology right now – such as the Accessibility for Your Browser post, which introduces a browser add-on that lets low-vision users grow the size of website text.
Hope you enjoyed the first edition of our Disabled Travelers Blind Travel special. I’ll be back next time with even more tips, tour operations, and top destinations for the visually impaired. Then it’s off to white sand beaches and blue skies with summer travel. Catch you again soon at Disabled Travelers!