By Brian Fischler
Why did I apply for the Flight for Sight $10,000 travel grant? I am totally blind with no usable vision, and if you are like me, then you know how much fun it is traveling these days, especially when you travel with a guide dog. So choosing to travel all over the country this Summer, I must need to have my head examined. Well for far too long I have been kicking back on my couch. Heck, I made it fashionable to be locked down and shut in even before the global pandemic. I was living in sweat shorts during the summer and sweat pants during the winter, and while it is nice to not live in real clothes, I am not getting any younger. To quote the Goonies, “it’s our time now,” or my time at least.
Back in February of this year, I headed down to Miami, and on my return trip to New York City, I encountered the worst experience of my life going through TSA at the Miami International Airport. Why is it that every single time I go through TSA, the security agents act as if I am the first ever blind person to come through security with a guide dog? I don’t know why, but they do. Is it just my dumb luck, or do TSA security agents not read their own manual, as it has been confirmed to me that how TSA should respond when someone passes through security at the airport with a guide dog is actually in their own training manual.
I was forced to not only take off my guide dog Wesley’s harness while going through security, but also his leash and collar. Wesley reacted like any dog would, he was like a naked innocent boy running around the village. Could you blame him?
After that experience in February when I heard about the Inaugural Flight for Sight program, a light bulb went off in my head. Why not fly around to several different U.S. cities and review my experiences at different TSA checkpoints with a guide dog.
I knew that would not be enough for me to win one of the initial $10,000 travel grants. I decided it would be an interesting case study to sit down with a blind or visually impaired person in each city that I travel to, and compare what it is like to live in a specific city while blind versus what it is like to travel to that same city. Who knows, maybe I will discover what some of the best cities to live in in the United States are for blind people. I live in New York City, and it used to be a blind man’s paradise, but let’s just say that New York City is not what it used to be.
A large part of Flight for Sight goals is to educate the public about what it is like living with blindness, so I thought I had all of this covered, but the other part of Flight for Sight is to have some fun while traveling, as it is not education all the time. I am a huge baseball fan, and I love going to different ballparks, so I added the third element which is to attend a baseball game while in every city. So now we have TSA reviews, blind peeps interviews, and baseball games, but the fourth part of Flight for Sight is to be interactive on social media and to share my experiences while traveling. How to do that?
Having been a long time podcaster with That Real Blind Tech Show, I thought why not launch the Flight for Sight’s podcast. So during my travels I will be podcasting and interviewing people. The first place I am going is Dallas on July 1st! Who should I interview there?
You can keep up with me on Flight for Sight’s Facebook Page, Instagram account, Twitter account, and website. Also, for Flight for Sight updates be sure to sign up for their newsletter here!
Photo Description: Brian is sitting down with his arms around his guide dog, Wesley, a yellow lab. Brian is wearing a black hat, black sunglasses, a black t-shirt and tan shorts.