Braille Monitor                                                                           November 1986


No Trouble with the Exit Row
How do They Determine Who is Blind?

Grand Forks, North Dakota
July 10,1986

Ms. Peggy Pinder
Attorney at Law
Grinnell, Iowa

Dear Ms. Pinder:

This letter is in response to our recent conversation at the NFB convention in Kansas City regarding my seating on a Northwest Airlines flight from Fargo, North Dakota, to Minneapolis, Minnesota, on June 28,1986.

I am legally blind and use a folding white cane when traveling. On June 28 my companion, Kathleen Brakke, and I were booked on Northwest flight 304 from Fargo to Minnepolis. The plane we were to fly out of Fargo on was grounded due to mechanical problems, and a Northwest plane flying from Bismark to Minneapolis was diverted to Fargo to pick up the passengers there. Prior to boarding the plane we were told that the seating arrangement wood be open--that is, there would be no preassigned seats. We boarded the plane and located two unoccupied seats, which happened to be over the wing on the left side of the aircraft. Dr. James Schobel, President of Mayville State College, Mayville, North Dakota, was the third passenger in our row of seats. We observed that the row in which we were seated was the emergency exit row and thought no more about it.

During the couse of the flight Dr. Schobel informed us that he, too, was visually impaired, being blind in one eye and having only partial vision with the other. We were not asked to move by any of the airline personnel on the flight and remained in our seats until the plane landed in Minneapolis. I was not aware at the time of the extent of the discrimination against the blind by the airlines, so I did not think that sitting in the emergency exit row was very significant until I arrived in Kansas City for the convention of the NFB.

Enclosed you will find the remains of our airline tickets. I am sorry that we had already discarded the boarding passes although as it worked out they were immaterial anyway. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.


Earl W. Anderson

If you or a friend would like to remember the National Federation of the Blind in your will, you can do so by employing the following language:

"I give, devise, and bequeath unto National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, a District of Columbia nonprofit corporation, the sum of $_________ (or "percent of my net estate" or "The following stocks and bonds: ") to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons."