VIA points the way for the blind

The Canadian Transportation agency has slapped down VIA Rail for its shoddy treatment of a blind passenger. Despite codes on John Benjamin’s ticket that indicated that he was blind and required assistance, VIA personnel left him to fend for himself — even pointing (!) to show him when he asked for assistance, and dismissed his disability as minor.

The full text of the decision is here, and bears reading. Here’s the money quote:

The Agency notes VIA’s statement that “VIA hopes that if this situation should ever arise in the future, that Mr. Benjamin will make his disability known to the person to whom he is speaking so that there will be no confusion as to the assistance that he needs”. In view of the evidence submitted by Mr. Benjamin, the fact that he requested services in advance of his travel and the fact that Mr. Benjamin was using a white cane, the Agency finds that the notion implied in VIA’s statement that Mr. Benjamin is somehow responsible for VIA’s failure to provide appropriate assistance is totally unacceptable. In this regard, the fact that Mr. Benjamin was using a white cane should have clearly demonstrated to VIA’s personnel the nature of his disability and the assistance he required. Also, the Agency finds that there was nothing more that Mr. Benjamin could have done to ensure that VIA’s personnel received the information that they required concerning the assistance he required due to his disability. The Agency also finds that VIA did not provide any evidence to justify why Mr. Benjamin was not provided with the appropriate assistance but was instead left unattended and uninformed despite repeated requests for assistance.

The CTA has ordered an apology, training and procedural changes, but it seems to me that dismissals ought to be in order for the staff who pointed things out to a man with a white cane. I mean, really. Come on.