The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

28 January 2008

Become somebody else’s Travel Eyes

Canada, Canary Islands, Cuba… Italy, Iceland… South Africa. Why not take a holiday with a mixed group of sighted and visually impaired people, and help your blind co-travellers “see”.

The idea for Traveleyes was devised by its visually impaired founder Amar Latif. Amar has had travelled to many destinations with a number of different organisations but often found limitations with these holidays. It was his need to go where he wanted and do what he wanted that inspired him to set up Traveleyes where blind, visually impaired and sighted people go on holiday together.

If you join one of the holidays as a sighted traveler, you will be able to choose your preferred destination. You will holiday with integrated group of sighted, visually impaired and blind travellers and be helping help make independent blind travel a reality.

As a sighted traveller, you will benefit in these ways:
• You will get to travel to an exciting destination and obtain a very substantial discount on the price of your holiday.
• You will get pleasure from being the seeing eyes for the blind travellers, thereby enabling the latter to travel more independently. You will gain an insight into the needs and aspirations of blind people and your perceptions of disability.
• You will be a friend, fellow holidaymaker and guide, but not a carer in any sense of the word. You will meet new people and could make friends for life.

All participants on a group holiday bring something unique. This is why Traveleyes encourages applicants from all backgrounds. These are a few qualities that would be useful:
being a good communicator
being quite good at describing things
being good-natured, positive, reliable and fun.

Here is a commendation from a visually impaired traveller:

Until recently, Cuba was not on my holiday destination list. In the past I'd found that independent travel was never straightforward - being visually impaired meant that I either had to find friends or family who wanted to go to the same places at the same time, to work a lot harder in terms of planning and organisation, or to join in with other organisations who organised travel for blind people. Each of these options had restrictions associated with them, so I was excited when a friend told me about a new company which had been set up to facilitate independent travel for people with a visual impairment.

I was excited about my new adventure, and The accessible "Lonely Planet" guide which I bought when I booked the trip, went a long way to giving me an understanding of Cuba's culture and history, as I was able to read it before I went, using screen reading software on my computer. At the same time, I went with an open mind, waiting to be pleasantly surprised by what the trip had in store for us.

My guide dog Cindy stayed behind with her puppy walkers, where I knew she would be well looked after, and unlike other times when I've travelled without her, I knew that there would be sighted travellers who could assist in the unfamiliar surroundings if I needed them to.