(From left) Bashir Ebrahim (Rehabilitation Services manager), Wendy Harris with Ranger, and Cr Graeme Brady tour the Rockhampton Airport with people who are vision impaired to familiarise themselves with the refurbished surroundings.
(From left) Bashir Ebrahim (Rehabilitation Services manager), Wendy Harris with Ranger, and Cr Graeme Brady tour the Rockhampton Airport with people who are vision impaired to familiarise themselves with the refurbished surroundings. Chris Ison

Vision-impaired check out airport

RANGER is a seasoned flyer and he spends his trips charming the "hosties".

The friendly fellow is Wendy Harris' Guide Dog and he loves to take trips in an aeroplane just as much as Wendy, but it can have its difficulties for the pair.

Wendy and her "little mate" and about nine other people from the region who are also blind or have low vision attended an orientation at Rockhampton's refurbished airport last Thursday in a bid to familiarise themselves with the new layout, and also the check-in and security processes.

The orientation was the first of its kind in regional Queensland and was a joint initiative between Guide Dogs Queensland and Rockhampton Regional Council.

Wendy yesterday said she flew regularly and workers at the Rockhampton Airport were always helpful and Ranger knew his way around, but the Brisbane airport was a "different kettle of fish".

She said organisers of the day asked for inspiration on how to improve their service to the vision impaired, and Wendy told them she would like to be able to use the disability car parks.

She felt she wasn't able to use them as she was not entitled to a disability sticker as it was only for those with mobility impairment.

The parks would be easier for Ranger, Wendy and her husband to get into the airport as she said she wouldn't have to be "dragged about."

"They said we could use the disabled parking. They seemed enthusiastic about making a few improvements," she said.

"Everyone is very helpful and they are talking about giving them (the staff) more training."

When Wendy flies, Ranger sits at her feet and gets excited when the doors open.

They have been together for five years, but Wendy has been blind for the last eight years after she was born with congenital cataracts, and eventually her eyes "just had enough".



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