Everyone who rides the CTA knows the drill…swipe your card, wait, get on the train, ride, and get off at whatever stop. Sounds easy enough, right? What if you had to do it all blind.
Cory Seeger is a DePaul University senior. She is a typical student, except she is legally blind. Since she can’t drive a car, she relies strictly on public transportation to get to school and work. But…since she can’t read the signs, her experience is different than most.
“When I first moved to the city, it was really interesting. Especially since the Fullerton train station was under construction for so long. It took awhile for me to get the hang of it. But now, I know what side to go up and I don’t have to ask anyone,” Seeger said.
For most people, rush hour can be stressful when commuting. For Cory, it’s even more stressful. “When the train is packed, it gets harder. When everyone is talking and jammed in there, it’s harder to hear what stop is what.” There have even been times where she had to ask the person next to her to repeat what stop it was. “They usually just look at me like I’m crazy. Like, really you can’t read the signs?”
We’ve all experienced it…you’re riding the train and all of a sudden it zooms past your stop. You look around and no one else is alarmed. You ask the person next to you and are informed, the train is running express. For Cory Seeger, this is when the most confusion occurs. “I wasn’t on the train any longer than normal, but it was going really fast. When it stopped finally, we were way past my stop. I had to ask someone for help to get my bearings straight and head back the other way.”
Seeger said the worst part about having to rely on her hearing on the train is that she can’t listen to her iPod. “It would be nice to put my head phones in and zone out, but I just can’t. If I know where I’m going, and have been there before, it’s easier. If I’m going somewhere completely new, I have to be fully alert so I don’t miss hearing something.”
So folks, next time you take the train…zoned out, iPod in, avoiding fellow riders…think about how it would be different, if you couldn’t see.