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Confidence boost: Airport tour helps blind students learn to live independently
By Jasmine Smith

Hartsfield-Jackson on June 15 welcomed students from Independence for the Blind, a Pensacola, Fla.-based nonprofit organization that helps blind and visually impaired people learn to live independently. Students ages 14 to 19 toured several parts of the Airport.

The day began with an introduction in the Atrium and included visits to AirTran Airways’ ticket counter, security checkpoints and the Zimbabwean sculpture exhibit between concourses T and A.

AirTran supervisor Michael Stanton talked about what the airline offers for employees and passengers with disabilities. The students removed their shoes and placed their belongings on the conveyor belts as they got the security-screening experience. They stopped to get a photo taken with Transportation Security Administration supervisor Marlon Richardson before continuing to the sculptures, where each student had a chance to touch the intricate details of the statues.

Hulrich Baptist, certified orientation mobility specialist, said the visit to the Airport was designed to give the students “the greatest possibility of independence” by helping to eliminate fears of new experiences.

“One day these students will have to do these things for and by themselves,” he added.

Public Affairs Special Programs Manager Tracy Gilbert said Hartsfield-Jackson offers group tours to “serve as a vehicle to welcome the community.” Several tours are planned for this summer, including tours for youth groups to increase awareness about the myriad careers in aviation.

Students check out Zimbabwean sculptures in the Transportation Mall

Student Cassie Avery (from left); Leigh Hoskins, transition specialist, with Gem, her guide dog; John O’Dillon, senior vocational rehabilitation instructor; and Executive Director Russell Rieder check out the Zimbabwean sculptures in the Transportation Mall.

Students check out Zimbabwean sculptures in the Transportation Mall

Heather Yesmet (left), a student at Independence for the Blind, explores “Galactic Dancer” by Tapfuma Gutsa as Department of Aviation administrative assistant Jean Davis looks on.



© 2010 Hartsfield-Jackson News. A Publication from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. All rights reserved.

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