A simple note written by a flight attendant to a deaf teen, who was on her first flight alone, has garnered attention online after the passenger's mother shared it on Twitter.
Although it may have seemed like a simple gesture, the teenager says that it helped ease her nerves, and it's a letter she will "cherish."
Ashley Ober, of Maryland in the US, was born deaf but as a 16-year-old teen, she wanted to show that she could be independent.
While her mum, Loretta Ober, wanted to help her, Ashley insisted she was capable of taking a flight from Baltimore to Rochester (about 1 hour and 20 minutes) on her own.
However, she was understandably nervous, especially considering she had a connecting flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
“I [felt] nervous because … what if I miss my flight or I don’t know where to go if I transfer,” Ashley told WJLA through an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter.
“I mean JFK is such a big airport, so I didn’t know where to go.”
Loretta dropped her daughter off at the Baltimore/Washington International Airport and waited anxiously outside.
“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,” Ms Ober said.
It was a text from Ashley, which included a note written to her by a flight attendant, which Loretta shared on Twitter. The photo, which was posted to the social media platform in July, has recently gone viral.
The note itself was simple; the flight attendant, Janna, explained to Ashley the different buttons above her seat, and how she could signal Janna for help.
For Ashley, it was an incredible act of kindness, and left her feeling calm and included.
“Deaf people can do anything,” she told WJLA. “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.”
— bostonober (@oberlynn13) July 6, 2019
Ashley says she still has the note.
“I still have it. I’m going to cherish that,” she said.
“We are extremely proud of the thoughtful approach this Endeavor 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," an airline spokesperson told the station.
The spokesperson added that in the next few months, Delta would give flight attendants and gate agents who can sign a uniform language bar which would state they can speak ASL or another sign language.
“With this improvement, customers and qualified employees will immediately be able to visually recognise when they hold sign language as a common connection,” the spokesperson said.
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