Teen Uses Sign Language to Assist Deaf and Blind Man on Flight

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Flying in an airplane can feel frightening and isolating for anyone. This can be powerfully amplified for disabled passengers.

When an Alaska Airlines flight asked if anyone might be able to help communicate with a passenger who was both blind and deaf, a California teen stepped up.

That teen believes that she was put on that flight for a reason.

Alaska Airlines Clara Daly 1

An Alaska Airlines flight made an announcement, asking if anyone onboard knew sign language.

As it happened, a teen girl who is a Calabasas native, Clara Daly, has been learning ASL (American Sign Language), and she jumped at the chance to help.

There was a man on the flight with her who was not only deaf, but blind. As a result, she had to sign into his hand in order to communicate with him.

"They thought that he might need something," Clara would later explain. "And they weren't sure how to communicate."

As it turns out, she says, no emergency situations came up in which she needed to translate. But she was still happy to help.

"He didn't need anything," Clara says. "He was just like lonely and wanted to talk"

Alaska Airlines Clara Daly 2

Clara's mother, Jane Daly, shared a series of photos of the encounter and explained what had happened.

"Clara and I flew home yesterday." Jane writes. "Our original flight from Boston was cancelled (of course!) so Alaskan Airline placed us on an earlier flight out."

There's always something when you fly, it seems.

"Clara and I made a mad dash to the airport to make the new flight! (we did, phew)" Jane says.

"Shortly after the flight took off," Jane says. "A flight attendant made an announcement asking if anyone knew sign language."

Fortunately, there was just one such person on the plane.

"Clara has been studying American Sign Language," Jane says. "So she rang the flight attendant button."

There was a twist, however.

"They explained that the passenger was not only deaf, but also blind," Jane reveals.

Yes, like Helen Keller.

Jane explains what the attendant told them: "The only way you can communicate with him was by signing into his hand."

Alaska Airlines Clara Daly 3

From what Jane says, Clara was eager to help.

"Clara jumped up and went to see if she could help..." Jane says proudly. "And she did!"

Jane had started learning ASL because of her own dyslexia, figuring that it was just another way to communicate without writing or reading, since her mind jumbles those letters.

Jane shares: "Several times he requested her assistance throughout the flight."

Which may mean that Clara was being too modest when she claimed that he didn't need her help, even if there were no emergencies.

"Toward the end of the flight he asked for her again," Jane reveals. "And this time he just wanted to talk."

"She spent the remainder of the flight until landing with him," Jane says.

"He asked her lots of questions," Jane explains. "And she signed-spelled the answers into his hand."

Alaska Airlines Clara Daly 4

"The flight attendants and the passengers around him were all taken by Clara," Jane says. "They took these photos which they shared with me this morning."

That is so sweet. And Clara suggested that it might have been no mere coincidence.

"After the flight," Jane reveals. "Clara told me that she thought it was meant to be that our original flight was cancelled and we were placed on this flight so that she could be there to help this man."

That is such a positive way of looking at an otherwise unfortunate flight cancellation.

"His name is Timothy," Jane shares. "Our original flight was direct to LA. The new flight had a layover in Portland. Timothy was flying to Portland."

Jane also says that Clara is being modest about the entire thing.

"She'll probably kill me for posting this, but - Proud of my girl. #alaskanairlines"

Of course, that very sweet story went viral. Good news is always welcome.

There is no shortage of horrifying viral stories, after all. Especially from flights.

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