We launch our new interview spotlight on Traveling with MS today. Our main aim for these interviews are to highlight inspirational people who while living with a disability have inspired so many people through the medium of travel.
Todays Interview spotlight is with travel blogger Chérie King.
Welcome Chérie on our first ever interview session – Can you tell us a little bit about yourself ?
Chérie: My name is Chérie King, and I am the person behind the blog Flight of the Travel Bee. Despite the fact that I was born Deaf, I never let that stop me from traveling to the far corners of the world. My first trip abroad was to Paris in high school, I was so excited to travel abroad but was shocked to see that there were no resources for Deaf travelers. So I set out to start my blog in hopes of educating others on Deaf people around the world, and to help those that wanted to travel but was always afraid to. Recently I was featured in Apple’s iPad Air “What’s your verse” campaign, in addition I also filmed a podcast in New York City for Apple regarding accessible travel for the Deaf.
How amazing – I will have to let viewers view your iPad Air advert before we start our Q&A –
Q. So Chérie tell us your thoughts on Disability Travel & do you see things made accessible for travellers worldwide?
Chérie: Modern technology has made disability travel more accessible than ever. With the development of the iPad, Skype, Face-time, and other social media – we are more connected to the rest of the world. Yet, much of the tourism industry does not reach out to those with a disability.
Q. Any experience that you can remember where steps were taken by accommodation / DMOs for disability friendly access?
Chérie: At airports, I always mention that I am Deaf, and they usually do their best to acknowledge me when it is time to pre-board the plane. I find it much more helpful to request pre-boarding, because I can’t hear the overhead announcement for which zones or rows may board. Several times in my travels, I have met TSA agents or flight attendants that knew sign language. I am always thrilled to meet someone who knows sign language; it makes all the difference during a long day of travel.
I flew Norwegian Airlines for the first time recently, and I was surprised to discover that several select films had English subtitles. A rarity in the aviation industry; this was the first time I have seen captions for in-flight entertainment. Hopefully other airlines follow suit.
Q. As a person living with a disability – Do you see ways in which the industry can change their behaviour towards disabled / accessible travel?
Chérie: There needs to be awareness of various cultures, and the needs of various disabilities. Staff could be trained more thoroughly how to help the disabled at airports, hotels, train station and so on. Once, I told a flight attendant that I was Deaf, and that I needed directions to the next gate for my connecting flight. She told me she would have someone guide me to where I needed to be. I happily agreed – only to find the guide brought me a wheelchair!. Sadly, I’m often shocked at the lack of knowledge regarding Deaf travelers. It would take minimal training and resources to educate staff, but would go miles to ensure disabled travelers have a safe and enjoyable journey.
Q. And lastly Chérie, what steps should disabled travelers take while traveling to a destination?
Chérie: Definitely bring the tools/equipment you need abroad, bring your iPad and/or preferred technological devices. Download any apps that you think you might need to help with traveling abroad. There is a wide variety of accessible apps according to your destination, that are extremely helpful. Always make sure you alert taxi drivers, hotel clerks, or airline agents that you need assistance – they can be very understanding and helpful. Don’t hesitate to ask for help, always trust your instinct. Also, bring backups if you can; don’t assume your destination will have the batteries, adapters, or medications you might need. There’s so many amazing experiences to be had, don’t let some inconveniences or extra planning stop you from getting out there!
Thank you Chérie for sharing your insight on traveling with a disability and being an inspiration to many. We wish you all the very best and safe journeys for your future travels.
What are your thoughts ? Do leave us an inspirational note …..