|Photo by: Max Pixel|
“I’m sorry but you have to go back to Boston.” said an official from Overseas Adventure Travel. JoAnn Becker wasn’t having it. “I’m sorry,” she told the official, “I’m not going.”
A travel group had just arrived its hotel in Cairo, Egypt and Becker was among them. Shortly upon arrival, she was told she would have to return to Boston because she’s completely blind. Becker has traveled successfully for many years, typically with her husband who had regular eyesight. However, when her husband passed away about 15 years ago she vowed to keep traveling and having great life experiences in different cultures.
Becker typically travels in groups without a “walking companion” and has done so several times－twice －with Oversees Adventure Travel.
Tour group companies have to deal with a plethora of problems from customers lost items, lost people, rudeness, etc. JoAnn Becker says she is and never has been any of those and a member of the group who befriended Becker, Ellen Mays confirmed this to be true on the Cairo trip. Mays said the biggest problem was caused by a woman who was constantly making the group late saying “She [the woman] was much more of a problem than JoAnn,” said Mays. “JoAnn’s blind, but she’s not impaired.”
On the day trip to the Nile River Overseas Adventure Travel made arrangements for Becker to get extra assistance, however, Becker was able to manage just fine and both she and Mays said not much assistance was really needed.
At the end of the trip, Becker tried to sign up for the upcoming Vietnam trip with Oversees Travel Agency and the company told her she couldn’t go. Becker says the reason she was given was because she was blind; however, the travel company states they informed Becker she could only make the trip with a personal travel companion.
Becker was extremely upset and disappointed about this saying “I want to dispel the myth that the blind can’t travel alone,” she explained “It’s like saying the blind can’t manage to cook and clean. I’ve developed alternative techniques to maintain my independence.”
The way Becker has gone about her life and overcoming her impairment makes the case for her－she reads incessantly, belonging to a book club with sighted friends (she’s been to 40 different countries, which is more than most people), she graduated from Wellesley College, and works as a marketing and technology professional.