For the past few years I have been producing a feature called “from the pages of Donna’s diary” and now I believe that it is time for me to tell you a bit about myself so you can learn more about me.
I live and work in Toronto Canada and for most of my life I have spent countless hours on planes, trains, and in cars on the road. I was born with very limited vision, received a cornea transplant when I was a teenager, and lost almost all of my vision in 2004.
I have experienced many challenges through out my traveling life but on the other hand I have also been extremely privileged to have spent so many pleasurable hours on sandy beaches, cross country skiing, and on crowded streets in busy cities.
As far back as I could remember, traveling for me was a part of my world. Treasured memories of so many trips with my family when I was growing up. Traveling with friends on business and for pleasure and traveling alone to conferences all make up a plethora of experiences for me.
My very first trip with my family was when we traveled to England on a cruise line and I was just a very wee one then. I can still remember some of this trip despite my age of four years. We stayed with my aunt and uncle for six months in England before returning home.
Then the many road trips with the family spending so many hours on sandy beaches and that never forget trip to South America when I was a teen.
My trip with my parents after I graduated from university to New York, London, Liverpool, and across to Europe where customs agents were more interested in asking me about then Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau and his wife Margaret.
Then my travel adventures when I was all grown up; to conferences on my own and with friends. A trip with my friend Jackie to participate in a chess tournament for blind players in Windermere in 2014 and my annual vacation to sweet St Lucia with my mom.
I have traveled to several islands in the Caribbean., to South and Central America, across Canada, to California, New York, Boston, and Florida, and to Europe.
I learned so much when I studied in Liverpool for one year and nothing could ever replace the knowledge that I have gained by being a somewhat world traveler promising myself to travel once more to Europe next year to visit certain World War sites in Poland, France, Belgium, Germany, and England.
I have seen and heard so many things. I have experienced airport and airline staff go out of their way to assist me as a blind passenger but at the same time I have seen absolute sadness with untrained agents not knowing how to relate to and communicate with passengers with disabilities choosing instead to show me disrespect and treatment bordering on recklessness and willfulness.
I continue to experience those ill trained agents who honestly believe that a blind passenger’s desire to be given escort assistance rather than be forced to sit in a wheelchair should be ignored and disrespected. I continue to fight against those airports whose managers believe that it is more beneficial to take me to court over complaints that I have raised over their ineptness rather than working with me to fix systemic weaknesses.
I continue to enjoy those hotel staff who go out of their way to ensure that my vacations are filled with fun, pleasure, boundless laughter, and so much more and I continue to meet service desk personnel who go out of their way to ensure that my stays and conferences at their facilities will ensure that I return again.
The experiences for me continue to be filled with new adventures each time I travel. There are absolute differences for me between when I had limited vision, when I received a whack of new vision, and now that I have precious little vision.
This is me and this is who I am and this is who I will continue to be as I continue to bring you my experiences from the pages of Donna’s diary.