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Concerns when Traveling with a Disability

Outline: Explains how to overcome some of the obstacles when traveling with a disability including airport screening with a pacemaker.

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We often view disabilities as someone who uses a walker, cane, wheelchair and so forth; and what is also very true is that there are all kinds of other challenges that people face when they are traveling.

We often view disabilities as someone who uses a walker, cane, wheelchair and so forth; and what is also very true is that there are all kinds of other challenges that people face when they are traveling.

Hearing disability is a huge obstacle when traveling.

The noise and confusion can be a huge challenge to someone that uses a hearing aide or for even the person who doesn't use a hearing but has a hard time hearing.

Be sure and let the screener at the airport know you have a hearing disability and if you can't hear them have them write down the instructions so you can read them.

Never feel like you can't ask for assistance, however, be sure and let them know what your issue is and how they can help you. This goes for when you board the plane also, let the flight attendants know you have a hearing disability, a good idea might be to have some cards made up so you don't have to keep explaining your challenge to everyone, you can just hand them a card that explains it all to them.

Assisting devices are another area

This can cover many things from prosthetic devices, braces, to canes and walkers. Be sure to know if an x-ray inspection will harm your device and/or if it can't be removed and you will need a physical inspection.

With any of this you can ask for assistance, which is what you will need to do, don't expect them to offer, you need to ask and then be prepared to explain to them how you need to have them help.

You should not have to take your brace or prosthetic device off for your screening; they should be visually and physically inspected after you have gone through the metal detector. Also know they will need to physically pat the devices during the screening.

Visual Disability

It is sometimes difficult for the airport personnel to pick up on so once again be sure and state your challenge upfront and let them know what your limitations are. Again it would be good to have a card that explains your disability so they know what they need to do for you.

If you have cane that identifies you as visually impaired sometimes this will be enough, but it won't explain what your individual needs are.

Be sure to let them know that you need to know where the equipment is, when you will be going through the metal detector, what different sounds there will be and what they mean, if there are any obstacles and/or turns.

If you actually need someone to walk through the screening process with you be sure and state that and then repeat what you need as the previous person probably didn't fill them in, they just got a person to help you.

Be sure that the screener collects all of your carry-on items and know what they are and what they look like so you will be sure and get them all; it is a good idea to put something bright and unusual on each of your items so they will be easily identified.

Pacemaker wearers should carry an identification card when going through security at the airport, they are issued by your doctor or also a hospital can issue them. You just need to inform the screener you have a pacemaker, show them your card and say you need a pat down inspection rather than going the metal detector or hand wand inspection. Other than that your security check in will be as usual, providing you don't have any of the other challenges mentioned here.

Hidden disabilities

Can be a big challenge, as people can't see that there is anything wrong with you, so you just have to be patient and again a printed card with your disability and what kind of assistance you need is very helpful. Know what you need for them to do for you, be specific and clear; it could be that you move slower, you could have anxieties issue, need special attention regarding movement; you could have weak shoulders or knees. Let them know if you have equipment that can't be x-rayed and if you have to sit down during the screening process.

Reference: Darlene has been an active traveler and most of it was done as a single traveler. She was traveling alone long before it was a popular thing to do for women and to make the story even more interesting she is a Polio survivor and uses a walker and a small scooter. She is a Specialist in Traveling with Disabilities. Darlene Siddons Travel

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