In March 2018, I went on a plane for the first time and found myself wondering how to get plane safety information for blind and vision impaired travelers. Since I have low vision, I can’t see the general safety demonstration all passengers receive before takeoff, nor can I see the safety booklets in the seat pocket. Instead, I had to improvise and try to figure out what was going on.
I have flown many times since then, and while almost all planes have common safety features in place, I still need help finding the nearest exit and similar information. Here are my tips for finding plane safety information for people with vision impairments, inclusive of blindness and low vision.
What safety information do I need?
Knowing how to get plane safety information for blind and vision impaired travelers is just as important as knowing what information is needed. When I am getting plane safety information, I ask about the following items:
- Where the nearest exit is
- How to buckle my seatbelt
- How to use the oxygen safety masks
- Directions to the bathroom
- Where the life jackets are
- How to detach the seat cushions
- Any other details that may come to mind
Make a note when booking
When booking a flight on the airline’s website, there is a section for noting that a passenger has a disability, with the option to select vision impairment. The option may also be listed as blindness, vision loss, low vision, or vision impairment. I indicate that I have a vision impairment and use a cane, so that way I can request help if needed. This helps not only with navigating the airport, but getting on the plane as well.
Research the aircraft ahead of time
When booking a flight, the type of plane and its model number are listed, an example being Boeing 757. Users can run a web search with the plane name and model number, followed by the airline and the phrase “safety information” to get a digital copy of plane safety information. If I was going on a Boeing 757 plane on United, I would search “Boeing 757 United safety information.”
Watch airline safety videos on YouTube
All major airlines post their safety videos on YouTube for anyone to watch. Travelers can look up the video for their corresponding airline and watch it in advance to ensure they know how to use safety equipment and call for the flight attendant. This may not be necessary for experienced travelers, but it’s great for people that don’t fly often or for kids/teenagers.
Ask at the airport
If someone else booked my flight for me, there’s a chance that they didn’t note that I have low vision or that I use a TSA Pre-Check. As a result, I usually have to head over to the ticket counter and add these pieces of information to my ticket. While I’m there, I can request that I have my own safety briefing once I’m on the plane. That way, I can know where the nearest exit is and I can safely get out in an emergency. If the ticket counter can’t pass along the request, I ask the gate agent to do so.
Tell flight attendants you are visually impaired
Whenever possible, I take advantage of pre-boarding for travelers with disabilities to ensure that I can find my seat. When I get on the plane, I usually run into a flight attendant (sometimes literally) and tell them that I have a vision impairment. From there, they are able to assist me in finding my seat and offer to go over the safety information with me. I also have them walk me to the nearest exit so I can know where it is located. Some airlines let passengers with vision impairment touch the emergency safety equipment and have them practice putting oxygen masks on their faces too.
Have a great flight!
It’s easy to develop anxiety about planes when you don’t know what to do in an emergency. Once you’re confident in how to use plane safety equipment, flying won’t seem so scary any more. By knowing how to get plane safety information for blind and vision impaired travelers, you can stay safe and enjoy your flight to wherever your destination may be.