[nfbwatlk] NFB Cane-Related Airlines Incident

Mary ellen gabias at telus.net
Wed Mar 25 22:10:14 UTC 2015

Stowing a cane in the overhead bin is certainly an acceptable option,
provided the bin is long enough.

Because of having been threatened with arrest more than once, and having a
flight cancelled because I refused to move from an exit row when sitting in
one was not against regulations, I'm a hard liner on this issue.  Though I'm
willing to store my cane overhead if it defuses a controversy, I completely
support any blind person who resists having a cane removed when stored
according to regulations along the fuselage or parallel to the row of seats.
(Mine will never be stored parallel because it's longer than the row.)

I will support anyone who insists on the right to lawfully stow the cane in
a position of his or her choosing, but I also completely understand and
support any blind person who decides to comply with arbitrary flight crew
demands.  When I flew Alaska last November, I chose to comply and complain
later.  I did it because doing otherwise would have created significant
problems for my daughter who was meeting my plane.  She would have
understood and supported me, but I made the decision I did.   

Looking back on it, my hope that complying at the time and complaining later
could serve an educational function was misplaced hope.  If I had been
willing to withstand the inconvenience, perhaps the education would have
taken place and Sushel wouldn't have had to undergo the horrible incident he

We all do the best we can at any given moment.  I've stood firm and I've
caved.  I can justify either action; we almost always can.  Strategic
compromise can be valuable.  Unflinching courage also has its place.  

-----Original Message-----
From: nfbwatlk [mailto:nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Arielle
Silverman via nfbwatlk
Sent: Wednesday, March 25, 2015 2:28 PM
To: Debby Phillips; NFB of Washington Talk Mailing List
Subject: Re: [nfbwatlk] NFB Cane-Related Airlines Incident

There's a third option people haven't really mentioned. You can put your
cane up in the overhead bin. I've done that a few times when either it
wouldn't fit by the window or the flight attendant mistakenly thought it
wasn't allowed by the window. Putting your cane up overhead pacifies the
flight attendants without making you lose access to your cane if you need
it. If asked to put it up, I stow it with the flight attendant watching, or
we stow it together, and I make sure it is close to my seat. I explain that
I want to be compliant but I also want to know where my cane is in the event
of an emergency.
This has always worked fine. Again, it's best to put it by the window, but
in the occasional event that putting it by the window presents a problem,
putting it up overhead is a good compromise. Just make sure it's anchored
behind another bag so it doesn't fall on your head when you go to take it
Best, Arielle

On 3/25/15, Debby Phillips via nfbwatlk <nfbwatlk at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> Julie, not ragging on you for giving them the cane, but when people do 
> that it does make it harder for those of us who don't want to give up 
> our canes.  I'LL gladly give it up if it won't fit between the wall 
> and the window, but I'm not giving it up if it fits.  It's illegal for 
> them to ask it, and I'm not giving my cane up.  Hopefully there will 
> be no incidents the next time ow have to fly Alaska.  Of course, I 
> still might only have my funky folding cane.  I remember reading 
> articles in old Braille Monitors about people refusing to give up 
> their canes and being arrested.  It's kind of like I won't leave a 
> restaurant when I have my dog just because somebody doesn't know the 
> law.  People have fought too hard for the rights we have to give up 
> our canes
> and/oor dogs.    Peace,    Debby
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