Travel is a wonderful thing, it allows us to see and experience something new, embrace a different culture or simply enjoy sites and activities we couldn’t experience any other way. Enjoyable, educational and enriching, travel is one of life’s greatest gifts. However, for students with vision loss, travel can present some unique challenges. That doesn’t mean missing out though, with the right preparation and planning, equipment and care, every student can benefit from the benefits of travel for their education and enjoyment.
Here are some more travel tips for low vision students that can help make your next vacation one to enjoy and remember.
Travel Challenges for Low Vision Students
There are a number of challenges for students with vision loss, including the travel itself. It is essential to establish ticket information before you begin any journey so that everyone can be prepared for where they need to be and what they need to do. When traveling with vision loss, being prepared is a constant theme, and can smooth out any issues that you may encounter along the way.
However, some challenges may take you by surprise. For instance, you may take a trip to a museum or other attraction and find that they don’t have adequate accessibility provisions for visually impaired students. It is important to check with any destination before you travel, but even then some may not understand what is required and even after assurances, you can find that you are struggling without appropriate support.
In this case, portable electronic visual aids can be helpful as they are usually lightweight, so can be taken anywhere. Traveling with a suitable magnifying aid, students with vision loss will always have the tools they need, even if the museum or other destination is lacking in their own accessibility provision.
Here are some more travel tips for low-vision students that can help make your next summer vacation one to enjoy and remember.
4 Travel Tips for Low Vision Students
1. Choosing the right destination
Perhaps the biggest impact on the travel experience is the destination you choose. Researching destinations in advance is a must, but that means more than just checking websites for accessibility information. However, relying just on the website information can lead to unforeseen challenges as information is not always complete, so look out for reviews and feedback from visitors too. In this way, students with vision loss can be sure that the chosen museum or other destination has everything the students need, or allow them to take any necessary equipment to support them.
Sites like TripAdvisor can be a valuable source of information from people who have actually visited, and it has entries for tens of thousands of museums and other attractions, so there is likely to be some information on any destination you are thinking about. Accessible services for the visually impaired are usually available, but you often have to seek them out, and in many cases advanced warning will be required. As a result you should always plan trips well in advance where possible.
However, by ensuring that you have the right destinations, and any museum or attraction is aware of your needs beforehand, an enjoyable, stress-free experience is possible. Even so, having access to your own low vision aids can be a useful option, and what you travel with can really transform the whole experience.
2. Choose suitable hotels and transportation
Visits are not the only area where you need to be sure of arrangements. Always make sure your plane, train or hotel has the support you may need, and let them know beforehand that you are traveling with students with vision loss. There are a number of specialist travel services that deal with accessible solutions for visually impaired students and other needs, and if you can, seek these out to help you prepare a travel plan that works.
Preparation really is key when traveling with vision impaired. If you check all facilities in advance and make detailed plans to deal with each element of your vacation, then things will go a lot smoother.
3. Prepare your packing list
When preparing a packing list for travel as a student with low vision, in addition to basic items such as passports, visas, and travel documents, it is essential to pay special attention to medical and emergency supplies. This includes personal medications and prescriptions. Make sure you carry enough medications and have the doctor's prescriptions in case you need them for emergency circumstances.
It's also advisable to have a first aid kit containing items like adhesive bandages, antiseptics, pain relievers, fever reducers, allergy medication, and stomach remedies to address potential emergencies. Furthermore, ensure you carry personal medical information, including allergies, chronic conditions, and emergency contact details, to provide to healthcare providers as needed. These extra medical and emergency items will help students with low vision maintain their health and safety during their travels.
4. Bringing assistive devices on your trip
There are a number of useful tools that you can take on any trip that provide a range of accessible services for the visually impaired while being small, unobtrusive and easy to travel with. The first of these is a smartphone. Most students will already have one, but they are especially useful on a trip like this because of their versatility.
Smartphones are great for ordering tickets, finding accessibility information on the go when choosing a restaurant or anything else, and they all have cameras, perfect for capturing those special moments that a trip like this produces. But they can also run visual aids such as magnifying apps, which can be incredibly useful for reading menus and many other situations. Because we are all so used to carrying a smartphone, they are the perfect tool for taking on a trip that includes students with vision loss.
But as useful as a smartphone is, dedicated low vision aids offer superior performance, and can often be used for study as well as travel needs too. Now there are options for a handheld video magnifier that offers superb performance in a lightweight and easily transportable package that give anyone with vision loss the right tool to make the most of any trip.
Think about the kind of tools that will help the students, and which are easier to have with you given the situation. In many cases, an app on a smartphone will provide everything they need, but dedicated devices have their use for situations that are more demanding.
This is why portable low vision aids can be so helpful. Products like the Zoomax Luna 6, a handheld video magnifier, which is pocket sized and lightweight, so can be taken anywhere. Travel with Luna 6 and visually impaired students will always have the tools they need, even if the museum or other destination is lacking in their own accessibility provision.
Choosing destinations, hotels and travel arrangements with care really helps, but technology such as a magnifying aid for travel, and the versatility of a smartphone put the right tools in each persons hands. In this way, they always feel like they have control, and can go into every situation with confidence, able to adapt to new situations and enjoy the whole trip.
Travel is a wonderful thing for us all, and with the right preparation and technology to support them, it can be rewarding for students with vision loss too. That extra care and planning is well worth the effort though, allowing everyone to enjoy those new places and experiences that make travel, and the memories it creates, such a special time.