At the rightful age of 16, most American teenagers can look forward to driving. As a person with a visual impairment, that is something that I can not do.
Driving is essential if you want to travel from place to place and be independent. Since I cannot drive, I must rely on things such as public transportation to get me from ‘point A’ to ‘point B’. This seems easy enough, taking a bus everywhere you need to go, but what if you cannot see where you need to go? Most buses have a list of their stops but they do not audibly state them which means that if you cannot see street signs or other indicators that would tell you where to get off at, then you are out of luck.
To fix this situation, I usually would tell the bus driver that I have a visual impairment and ask if he could help me. Most of the time they are helpful and have no issue reminding me where to get off.
Another thing I do if I have not taken the bus route before, I just look at the surroundings and if it is familiar, I will get off at that stop. I usually pay close attention to where I am so I can get it right. Things such as house colors, trees and even cars parked in the same location everyday are helpful markers for me to make sure I get off at the right stop. Because we are in a pandemic, traveling has been restricted quite substantially, meaning I don’t have to go to as many places as before.
Another thing that can be difficult as a person with a visual impairment is finding the right car in a parking lot. If someone asks me to meet them outside and they give their specific car color and name, then I will probably not find it. Because I cannot drive, my knowledge of cars is far less than someone with perfect vision.
Another form of public transportation I have to navigate is airplanes and more specifically, the airports themselves. Finding the right gate is very difficult since I cannot read the signs above. Therefore, I would have no choice but to take pictures of every single one and see if I am getting closer or not.
When getting off an airplane, I must find my luggage out of about 300 luggage pieces and that is a challenge itself since I can only recognize something far away by its color. The best solution I have is to pick out the most unique color or pattern so I can identify it easily. I even have a unique backpack which lights up so I can recognize it very easily. The best thing about it is that it is customizable and can display text, pictures and even play games such as Tetris. To say the least, it stands out.
Overall, public transportation can be difficult for someone with a visual impairment but I always strive to make my life and the surroundings around me as accessible as possible.
Cameron Scott can be contacted at: