Haben at Gartner

I’m smiling and wearing a shirt with text that says, “Digital equality is my jam.” Behind me, across the hotel lobby, a large Gartner sign with a stylized coastline reads, “Expand your horizons.”

After my keynote at Gartner’s conference an attendee told me they’re inspired to make their websites and apps more accessible to disabled people. My favorite kind of inspiration!

San Francisco Lighthouse Union

Blind workers at the San Francisco Lighthouse are organizing a union, the first blind-centered union in California! So exciting! Hoping the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired’s management decides to recognize the new union Article: Blind, visually impaired workers at LightHouse kick off union — first of its kind in Bay Area

São Jorge Lighthouse

High up on the tower’s viewing platform, I stand beside an orange, waist-high wall where the reserve light happens to be perched. The large lantern has red along its top and bottom, and a silvery, translucent center. My guide dog Mylo looks alert beside me, and behind us, down below, appear the tops of trees, deep blue waters, and the shores of another island called São Jorge.

The lighthouse had their first blind visitor, and they turned it into an opportunity to search high and low for all the tactile experiences! They showed me the reserve light, the antique light, and they invited my guide dog and I to climb the stairs as high as we were comfortable going. The long, spiraling … Read more

Ocean Breeze

Vibrant red shutters frame sliding glass doors, crowned by a curving sign reading, “Ocean Breeze.” Dalila and I stand smiling in front of the doors, and Mylo is sitting beside us.

She loves her island, but doctors said if she wants to learn braille she has to leave her home for mainland Portugal. This is ableism. Institutions around the world have traditionally removed disabled people from their homes and placed them in special schools and centers. While many of these centers provide great learning opportunities, we … Read more

He Fits! Mylo on Azores Airlines

Azores Airlines has tiny planes. Mylo, a German Shepherd dog, sleeps on the floor of a plane. Most of his body is in the floor in front of my seat, but his head and shoulders extend in front of the seat next to mine. My feet rest on a metal bar beneath my chair, while my travel companion gets to plant his shoes firmly on the floor. No, I’m not complaining; I love accommodating Mylo!

He fits! Azores Airlines claims the only way a service dog can fit is by having a disabled person sit alone next to an empty seat. Instead of making assumptions based on a dog’s weight, airlines should ask us how we’d like to fly with our dogs. Many disabled people have strategies for traveling with … Read more

Augusto Arruda Pineapple Plantation

I’m kneeling on the greenhouse floor, gently touching long, skinny leaves that end in sharp tips. Rows of these short plants extend throughout the greenhouse, many of which have dark, still developing pineapples. Mylo is patiently watching me, and the back of his furry head is visible on the bottom left of the photo.

Confession: I thought pineapples grew on trees. Reason 98973 to increase accessibility at public gardens. Thanks to the Augusto Arruda Pineapple Plantation for welcoming my guide dog!

Mylo at the Azorean Beach

A German Shepherd dog is stretched out on a black sand beach, his eyes half-closed in contentment. I’m sitting beside Mylo, stroking his shoulder as I face the refreshing sea breeze. Vibrant green cliffs jut out of the Atlantic.

Seeing Eye dog Mylo is with me in the Azores! Thank you to everyone who shared my video describing Azores Airlines’ policy of separating disabled travelers from family/friends! The U.S. Department of Transportation confirmed they are investigating Azores Airlines. We flew here with United Airlines, which generously upgraded us to bulkhead seats that gave Mylo … Read more

This airline separates disabled travelers from family/friends

This airline separates disabled travelers from family/friends

Transcript (Haben speaking): Because I’m blind, an airline is saying I have to sit alone. We booked side-by-side seats. But when they found out I’m blind, they separated us. They’re claiming it’s their policy that if a person has a service dog over 55 pounds, they need a separate extra seat because they assume the dog won’t fit. Weight is just a number.

Guide Dogs are trained to tuck themselves under seats and I can use my feet as a barrier, keeping my dog confined to the floor space by my feet.

(Photo of a German Shepherd dog sweetly looking up at the camera while curled up on the floor by my feet. We’re both within the designated space for a single plane seat.)

And that extra empty seat, they want me to pay for it! Charging disabled people double for tickets, telling us we can’t sit next to family or friends, and, guide dog fat-shaming.

My trip is in a few weeks and I don’t know exactly what will happen, but I know I’m going to do everything I can to make sure other disabled travelers never have to deal with this. I filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation. The airline is Azores Airlines from Portugal, but because they fly to the US, they’re still subject to our anti-discrimination laws.

Filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation is free, fairly straightforward, and it can be done online. Please help share this video so more people know they can file complaints when experiencing airline access issues. Let’s remove barriers all over the world.

It’s My Birthday!

I’m wearing a gray coat and smiling as I stand at the curved stone entrance to a short tunnel.

It’s my birthday! Reading is one of my favorite things, especially humor-filled stories, so pleas send me your book recommendations! Highlights from this past year: Year of the Tiger by Alice Wong True Biz by Sara Novic Joan is Okay by Weike Wang The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman Sipping Dom Perignon through a … Read more