Teen uses sign language to help blind and deaf man on flight

2018-06-25 08:30
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(Photo: iStock)

A teenager is being credited with coming to the aid of a blind and deaf man during a flight from Boston to Portland, Oregon.

Clara Daly, of Calabasas, California, says she and her mother were travelling last week when the flight attendants asked if anyone knew American Sign Language.

SEE: World mourns as sign language extraordinaire Koko the gorilla dies

The 15-year-old had been taking sign language classes for a year and volunteered to help. That's when she met 64-year-old Tim Cook, who was travelling alone and struggling to communicate.

A fellow passenger captured a photo of Clara signing into Cook's hand and posted it to Facebook on Sunday. The post has since received more than 1 million likes.

Cook tells KGW-TV he was "very moved" that Clara came and helped him. Clara says their chance encounter was "meant to be."

WATCH: Use sign language to get served at Tanzania's deaf cafe

All Access-Tourism

This incident highlights the challenges of travelling for those who have a disability.

Tourism that is inclusive of those with disabilities has been a focus for South Africa for a while - with many stakeholders agreeing that universal design that caters for all persons from the start is a surefire way of growing the sector in the right way.  

It is important to note that people with disabilities don't want to be separated from the everyday experience, instead the ideal is to be included seamlessly - across all spheres of tourism.

READ MORE7 Ways Universal Accessibility will change in SA over the next 2 years

Hats off to three initiatives aiding accessible tourism in SA:

1. Epic Enabled

Epic Enabled specialises in accessible safaris and tours for both able and disabled travellers. Independent, barrier-free and accessible safaris is their business. Services are provided to physically challenged or impaired, paraplegic, quadriplegic or special needs guests. This enables all tourists to embrace the diversity in South Africa. Wildlife is experienced up close and personal and private, tailor-made tours are arranged to address every last request.

Watch an Epic Enabled journey as told by tourist, Cory Lee:

Pam Taylor from Flamingo Tours in Cape Town recognises the importance of universal access and identifies the limitations still in the way of access for all. 

Flamingo Tours is based in Cape Town and operates tours in the Western Cape, Namaqualand, the Garden Route and Eastern Cape. Self-drive tours are also arranged throughout South Africa. They specialise in tours for blind or sight impaired guests according to each guest's needs, interests and budget.

3. ilovecoffee

Step inside SA's first deaf-run coffee shop and you will be met by the friendly smile of Thembe - the deaf Barista who brews up a delicious cup of coffee - tried and tested.

Gary Hopkins started ilovecoffee to transform how disability is viewed and foster an understanding of Deaf Culture among South Africans. 

Ordering coffee from Thembe and Kaye-Lynne is easy - point at the menu, write your order down or better yet, they will happily teach you how to sign.

In the pipeline for ilovecoffee is funding a mobile coffee shop to open at tourist attractions, set up a deaf barista school and to create a disability hub in Cape Town - an inclusive market space for disabled visitors and traders.