Travelling with a Visual Impairment—A Word of Thanks

My name is Helen Murphy, married to Pat and mother to three adult children; Maria, Brian and Martin. I am visually impaired and can feel very alone at times. I live in the countryside in west Waterford. Due to my eye condition and fibromyalgia I am unable to get out much on my own. I am very much dependent on my family and close friends.

Both of my sisters and one of my brothers live in America; Mary lives in Arizona while Fiona and Anthony live in Philadelphia. Now that my children are grown up, I am able to travel to see my brother and sisters.

Travelling is not very easy with very limited eyesight, coupled with restricted mobility due to fibromyalgia. It is very daunting to take on this journey to America on my own. However, I am happy to tell you that I have made this journey many times over the past number of years.

It means so much to me to be able to spend quality time with my sister, Fiona. It is fantastic to have great company all day long. We spend lovely days browsing in the shops or garden centres, or simply chatting over lots of cups of tea! Fiona has a great understanding of my limitations and is so kind and great fun to be around.

These wonderful times are made possible because of some very special people. These are the ladies and gentlemen who give special assistance to people like me at the airports.

Upon arrival at the airport, my husband, Pat, brings me to the check-in desk. This is where I request assistance to help me with the boarding process. These wonderful people help me into a wheelchair and take over from there. My family can then relax in the knowledge that I am in safe hands.

The assistant helps me through the security checks and indeed the security people are also very helpful in guiding me through the scanning machine. My assistant then brings me to my gate. When the plane is ready for us to board my assistant brings me to the door and from there the air steward guides me to my seat. I can then rest assured that when I reach my destination there will be another kind assistant waiting to take me to meet my family.

This is a wonderful service provided by the airlines. Without these kind and caring people, I, along with many others, would dread the idea of travelling abroad. The sincerity offered by these people is immeasurable and they deserve great recognition. Without them I don’t know if I would travel on a regular basis, if at all.  I want to express my gratitude to these wonderful people and to thank them for their kindness. Without their assistance I would miss out on so many happy times.

I know that it can be unnerving to fly alone, but rest assured we are never alone. There is always someone there to guide us safely on our travels. Don’t let fear stand in your way of travel. If I can do it, anyone can! Safe travels, Bon Voyage!!

Helen Murphy, Fighting Blindness member.