Travelling solo for the first time can be daunting at best, but for one teen flying from Baltimore to New York, the trip was particularly daunting.
16-year-old Ashley Ober, who was born deaf, told WKYT she felt nervous before her flight, as she would be going through New York’s busy John F. Kennedy International airport.
“I feel nervous because … what if I miss my flight or I don’t know where to go if I transfer,” Ober said through an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter.
“I mean JFK is such a big airport, so I didn’t know where to go.”
Her mother wanted to help but the teen said she wanted to be independent, “I know I can do it on my own,” she said.
“I was waiting, watching my phone and I was thinking should I pull off, should I wait? And then the light popped up on my phone,” Ober’s mother said, according to WKYT
Oberon has sent her mother a picture message of a note she had been handed by a flight attendant explaining everything she would need to know ahead of take-off.
“Hi, good morning Ashley,” the note said.
“My name is Janna and I will be your flight attendant on today’s flight to JFK. There are two buttons above your head a yellow one that controls the reading light and a big grey one with a person on it that you can use to call me if you need anything.
“In the case of emergency the nearest exit is behind you. Those are the over-wing exits.
“Please don’t hesitate to ask if you need assistance. Again my name is Janna and welcome aboard our CRJ200 aircraft – your flight attendant Janna :)”
— bostonober (@oberlynn13) July 6, 2019
Oberon said she still has the note and she will cherish it.
“Communication is most important. Communication access is most important, to try to make any effort for deaf people, to make them comfortable instead of making them feel afraid,” she told WKYT.
A spokesperson for Delta told WJLA the airline is extremely proud of the “thoughtful approach this Endeavour Air flight attendant took to make the customer feel welcome.”
“Our goal is to make the world a more inclusive place, ensuring travel is easy for all people.” the airline said.
In the next few months, Delta will also five flight attendants and gate agents who know sign language a special badge to signal they speak ASL or another sign language.
“With this improvement, customers and qualified employees will immediately be able to visually recognize when they hold sign language as a common connection,” the airline said.