From the Facebook Files: The Adventures of Blind Elevator Travel

I did my postdoc at the University of Washington Medical Center. My office was on the ninth floor of an eleven-story hospital building. Each day I walked about a quarter-mile from the bus stop to the front entrance, traversed much of the hospital lobby, and finally reached the elevators (I think in the B-wing) to ascend to the ninth floor. My walk from the bus stop to my office, and back again at the end of the day, became so routine that I could be buried in thought while doing it. But many spectators found this simple task to be truly incredible.

Frequently, I ran into strangers who made interesting comments about my elevator use. Below is a story of one such encounter, and a little education on how ordinary elevator travel can really be for us blind folk.

From December 14, 2015:

Lady in the elevator at work: “Wow. You know where you’re going better than I do!”

Said lady almost missed the elevator because she thought it was going down instead of up. Then she started to exit on 5, said “oops” then got off on 8.

Sometimes the standards for blind people are low indeed.

BTW, for those who don’t know: I can tell if the elevator is going up or down because when it arrives it beeps once for up and twice for down. I find my

floor button by reading the Braille numbers on the panel. (They’re not just there for decoration!) Then I know when to get off by counting the number of

beeps as the elevator moves.

These things may not be obvious but they’re very simple.

Now, believe me, I’ve made the same mistakes that lady made, more than once. But like most people, I make those mistakes when I’m not paying attention,

or doing something on my phone.

Blindness doesn’t limit a person’s ability to move about in the world.

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