Take-off: Blind and low vision community learn ins and outs of Brisbane Airport

10 August 2018

Leading blindness and low vision service provider Vision Australia is has continued opening up Brisbane’s landmarks to the city’s blind and low vision community.

The not-for-profit organisation’s Orientation and Mobility Team will held its latest Travel Day last week, giving a group of clients the opportunity to become familiar with Brisbane Airport’s Domestic Terminal.

Vision Australia and Brisbane Airport Corporation have formed a partnership to facilitate Travel days at the airport’s domestic and international terminals.

Participating clients, who live with varying degrees of vision loss, took the opportunity to familiarise themselves with both the layout of the airport and how to access it via public transport, as well as learning about the check in process and other security procedures.

Vision Australia Orientation and Mobility Specialist Bashir Ebrahim OAM said the Travel Days have proved to be an effective way of helping people who are blind or have low vision to access more of Brisbane.

“What the Travel Days do is allow us to identify a location that our clients want to travel to or experience, as well as the challenges that might keep them from doing so,” Mr Ebrahim OAM said.

“For the airport, that could be things like navigating public transport, coping with the crowds or being able to find your way to the check-in desk on arrival. With the Travel Days, we give people a supportive environment where they can learn what they need to overcome those challenges,” he said.

Around 20 Vision Australia clients took part in the airport Travel Day and Mr Ebrahim OAM believes the group nature of the day is another positive for participants.

“It’s an opportunity for our clients to socialise with each other and share ideas or strategies they have for overcoming particular challenges.

“It’s also helps clients understand they aren’t alone in facing these sorts of challenges which is important to understand.  

The airport Travel Day follows similar trips to other Brisbane landmarks this year and Mr Ebrahim OAM said he believes the outings are of benefit to wider community as well.

“There are some misconceptions about what people who are blind or have low vision are interested in or what they’re able to experience.

“Having a group of 20 or 30 of our clients with their white canes or Seeing Eye Dogs at somewhere like the airport is a great way to illustrate that people from the blind and low vision community often enjoy the same sorts of things as the sighted community.”

Keith McCullagh, Brisbane Airport Travel Day coordinator added, “It’s important we understand the needs of passengers and visitors living with disabilities who travel through our airport, whilst ensuring we provide an enjoyable and stress free experience.

“The Vision Australia Travel Days have provided invaluable feedback on how we can better improve accessibility to our facilities and create a fully inclusive environment for passengers with a vision impairment.

“The opening of Australia’s first Assistance Animal bathroom facilities in the Domestic and International Terminals in 2014, are good examples of how feedback from our community helps to inform accessibility decisions at Brisbane Airport."

Find out more about Vision Australia's Orientation and Mobility services here or get in touch via info@visionaustralia.org or call 1300 84 74 66.