Travel, especially independent travel, is one of the pleasures that many might think becomes unavailable after vision loss. After all, navigating unfamiliar locations is something that can be complicated enough already for anyone no matter their level of sightedness, and vision loss can be an extra hurdle. However, it’s far from an insurmountable obstacle, writes the San Diego Center for the Blind (SDCB). Travel and tourism are becoming more accessible all the time as businesses and destinations realize the sense (not to mention the cents!) of offering accommodations such as adapted menus, guide services, and more. And there are many travel companies that cater almost exclusively to people with disabilities, including blindness or low vision (VIs). The SDCB describes two USA-based travel companies that specialize in tours for VIs ( Mind’s Eye Travel, Outta Sight Travel) and one from Denmark (VisionOutdoor ).
The SDCB blog also lists a company specialising in VI travel from the UK. There are some 157,000 people registered blind in Britain, and 155,000 registered visually impaired (VIs). Only 8% were born with their condition. When it comes to holidays, beyond travelling with friends and relatives, people with vision disability have shockingly few options, writes Jon Henley in The Guardian. There is however, Traveleyes, a company set up by Amar Latiff, a 36-year-old Glasgow-born entrepreneur seven years ago. Amar has been without 95% of his sight since his first year at university, thanks to an incurable eye condition called retinitis pigmentosa. Not all clients come from Britain: 30% of Traveleyes’s VIs come from abroad, mainly North America, Australia and New Zealand. Traveleyes pairs up sighted people and people with visual impairments who may or may not have known each other beforehand. The sighted travellers provide descriptions and guidance in exchange for reduced fares, and the pairings rotate daily, so meeting new people is built right into the tour.
For the blind business traveller (or any traveller with vision loss), there is also online help on how to manage negotiating airports more effectively (J.J. Meddaugh), and what to expect when going through airport security (Janet Ingber).