What to do if a rideshare service denies access to you and/or your guide dog.

Kai @kai.owens is blind and has never been able to drive, so services like Uber and Lyft have the potential to give him freedom. Their apps are accessible with his iPhone’s accessibility settings and the idea of catching a ride at will gives him a sense of freedom. Unfortunately, these services often marginalize the very communities that could most benefit from their services.

(Picture description: Kai stands with his German Shepherd guide dog named Pride)


Recently, a driver told Kai, “I think you should carry a blanket to place on the floor under your dog, so I don’t have to deal with the dog hair.” ADA law protects guide dog access. If dog hair is the concern, rideshare drivers should consider carrying a blanket or lint brush to protect the floorboards and interior from dog hair. But what’s worse is that some drivers flat-out refuse service causing frustration, tardiness, and danger.

Kai lives about three hours away from home on his college campus. He called me one day to vent, saying, “I used the Uber app to request a ride to a doctor’s appointment. The app said it would be a fifteen-minute wait, so I sat down and waited near my pickup location. When the driver arrived, they messaged me saying that they could not find me. So, I called the driver and gave them a better idea of my location.”

Then the driver asked, “Is that you in the grey shirt?”

He said, “Yes.”

Then she asked, “With the dog?”

He said, “Yes.”

The driver pulled up slowly along the sidewalk next to him, then kept rolling forward. At first, he hoped that she had just pulled up further looking for a safe place to stop, but then she hung up the call and cancelled his ride.

Uber has stranded him before, but this felt more personal because the driver acknowledged seeing him, then canceled while talking to him. It deeply affected him. He expressed anger and hurt over the overt discrimination and ableism.

He booked a new ride and the App said it would be a twenty-two-minute wait. He used that time to contact the doctor’s office to let them know that he’d be late. They told him if he was more than fifteen minutes late they’d need to reschedule his appointment and he’d receive a last-minute cancellation fee. He explained the full situation and they waived their policies and said they’d do their best to work him in upon arrival. Next, he messaged the Uber helpline through their app. Uber sent him a response that read, “What you’ve reported is extremely concerning, and we’ll do everything to help. Discrimination is never allowed on the Uber platform. We see you’ve reached out via email and in-app about this issue and a member of our team will be following up as soon as possible. We appreciate your patience.”

We posted about Kai’s Uber experience on our social media platforms. Many blind individuals and guide dog handlers responded by sharing their rideshare access and denial experiences. In Kai’s situation, Uber refunded his ride that day, but never addressed the larger issues related to access and ADA law.

Continue reading “What to do if a rideshare service denies access to you and/or your guide dog.”

2022 Owens Family Update

Hi everyone, Hope you are well. Blog updates are few and far between these days as Kai is living his best life in college!

Kai is enjoying his sophomore year studying music theory and jazz drumset. The college is fulfilling all of his accommodations and it’s so refreshing after years of battling with our local school district.

Over the summer, Kai got matched with a guide dog, named Pride. The two of them make a great team! He’s living independently in a rental house just off campus with two roommates. Big brother Cash lived there in college, then purchased it as an investment when he started his job as a geologist in Houston, TX.

Kai and Pride walk to campus and then use the university transit system to get to class. If the weather is terrible or he needs to be someplace early, the university sends a paratransit van to assist. He could not be happier with his college experience. He’s involved in several activities including Spike Squad, performing at the local jazz brunches and open mics, volunteering at the animal shelter, and working part-time (consulting for Vispero). His plate is full but he couldn’t be happier.

Kai and his girlfriend Hannah just celebrated their one-year dating anniversary. You’ll have to ask Kai how they met because the story is incredible. Cash and his girlfriend Sydney are enjoying their jobs in Houston and we plan to visit over the holidays. I miss them all madly!

Chris and I are adjusting to empty nesting. Cash has been gone for a while and as much as I miss him, he’s happy and busy adulting. Even after a full year of college, Kai’s absence feels fresh. After fighting so hard for his education I find myself feeling a mixture of emotions: pride that he’s a strong self-advocate + joy about his college experience + relief that I’m not having to fight anymore + loneliness in the quiet house.

While Chris is at work, teaching, I took time to write a book about our family’s experience navigating blindness. I’m currently working with an editor and exploring publishing options. If you are interested in knowing more about the book please click here and sign up to receive updates about the book writing process and launch. My goal is to publish in paperback, Kindle, audio, and braille.

Thanks for all of your support and as always, you can find the most current updates on our Instagram and our blog’s features page. You may reach us by completing the contact form.

Take good care and keep in touch, Kim

Kai kneels down beside Pride. This picture was taken as we drove away after move in.

Graduation, College & The Empty Nest.

Hi everyone! It has been a while since we posted an update. This is Kim/mom and I hope you are well. Kai graduated high school back in May and moved to a huge college campus in August – 4 hours away with 40k students! He’s 6 weeks into his new college career and is thriving. He rates his college experience as a 9 or 10 out of 10. We are so thrilled for him!

He graduated his mainstream high school as Valedictorian. You can watch his valedictory speech by clicking here. The support we received along the journey was simply amazing. We have met the most incredible people in the blind/low vision community. We have worked with amazing mentors and educators and we have grown so much. Most importantly, Kai has developed the confidence and skills to advocate for himself in a university setting. He’s working closely with his vocational rehabilitation counselor, his professors and the University’s Disability Resources Center to get access to the education he desires. He’s traveling all over the campus and town independently with his excellent orientation and mobility skills.

This blog allowed us to record major milestones, meet amazing people and it opened many doors to experiences and adventures. I’m so grateful for the time we’ve spent together and I will remain available to parents of blind and visually impaired kids. If you need support, please click here to access our contact form and I will respond. Kai and I will continue to participate in panels, podcasts, webcasts, etc., so if you have an opportunity for either of us, please reach out. You can find our most recent content by clicking here to access our features page.

If you’d like to reach or follow Kai directly, I’d recommend clicking here to visit his Instagram page at www.instagram.com/Kai.Owens.

We will continue to update and promote our friends in the blind/low vision community on our family’s advocacy page. Click here to go to www.instagram.com/NavigatingBlindness.

And, don’t forget about our t-shirt shop: www.EyeSwearApparel.com Blindness Advocacy with a twist. Great gift ideas for you and your blind/vi friends and all proceeds go toward Kai’s educational expenses.

We look forward to getting to know you and continuing to navigate blindness together. — The Owens Family


Blind & Adaptive Skaters Take Over a Skate Park for the Weekend – A group filled with Ambition, Perseverance, and Grit, by Kelly Anne Walborn

Check out the great article about the skaters experience at this link:


Image of all the adaptive skaters mentioned in the article. They are standing in front of a wall that is covered in graffiti with the word Modern at the top. Many of the skaters are holding white canes. Kai is in a wheelchair and Shane has arm crutches.
Thanks for the great article, Kelly!

Becoming a Certified Braille Transcriber by Elizabeth Symington, Founder UEB Study Group

July is braille literacy month on Navigating Blindness and we are honored to feature a blog post by Elizabeth Symington, CBT. She is a fearless leader in the Braille Community and a dear friend.

My Story of Becoming a Certified Braille Transcriber
By Elizabeth Symington

I was introduced to braille while attending art school in San Francisco, CA. One day while at the library, I discovered a picture book for children who are blind. At this point, I’d never met a blind person, nor did I even know there were picture books for the blind. I was instantly captivated.

The braille picture book is one of my childhood favorites, “A Color of His Own,” by Leo Lionni. The pictures looked like a wall fresco; they rose off the page. Instead of using color, different textures were utilized to describe the pictures. It was also a fun decoding game since the story was in braille and in print. Continue reading “Becoming a Certified Braille Transcriber by Elizabeth Symington, Founder UEB Study Group”

Aille Design: Clothing that Speaks

July is braille literacy month on Navigating Blindness and today we are excited to feature Alexa Jovanovic, founder of Aille Design!

By Alexa Jovanovic, Founder of Aille Design

Braille is much more than a communication tool. It enables freedom of expression, provides independence and increases literacy. When combined with mainstream fashion, it symbolizes the importance of inclusive representation in the fashion industry and empowers communities to advocate for social justice. Continue reading “Aille Design: Clothing that Speaks”

AIR? …We need your help & connections.

Friends, we need your help.

Yesterday, we learned that Kai has been misdiagnosed for 7 years! It’s not RP or Stargardts, it’s autoimmune retinopathy (AIR). If docs had listened & run proper testing his sight may have been saved. 😭 😡 😭

After 3 negative genetic tests, today Kai was officially diagnosed with AIR. 3 different retinal autoantibodies (AAb’s) were found and he’s being tested for a 4th.
Doc recommends one of 2 treatment paths:
Continue reading “AIR? …We need your help & connections.”

The Courage to Share: Blogs by Moms of Blind/VI kids

In the early days of Kai’s diagnosis I scoured the web for blogs written by sighted parents of kids who were losing their vision. I could not find any.  Sure, I could find advocacy and awareness web sites and consumer groups, but I craved emotional honesty from another mom. I wanted to read her feelings, understand her struggles, and celebrate her wins. I wanted to know her feelings about her child’s inclusion (or lack thereof) and understand the anger and frustration behind her educational accessibility battles. And, most importantly, I wanted to know what it felt like to be on the other side: to have raised a child who became a strong self-advocate, who is highly-educated and employed. I wanted to know my child could beat the grim statistics. Now, 7 years later, I have found 6 moms (+ me) who are blogging about their experiences and I am so excited to share them with you!

Each of these blogs is written by a sighted mom of a blind or VI child(ren). Our kids range in age from 1-20, they have different diagnoses, and our philosophies, cultures, and religious backgrounds vary, but what we all have in common is the courage to share. Continue reading “The Courage to Share: Blogs by Moms of Blind/VI kids”

Thriving Blind & Navigating Blindness: Acceptance & So Much More

From perceptions to prom to college — and everything in between — Kristin & Kim cover multiple topics about raising kids who are blind. Click here or on the image below to listen in on the chat/rant that follows no outline or schedule!

Please give us a like, share, follow or comment. Related links are included at the end of the post.

ps. This is my first video experience so please be kind. Yes, I know I blinked A LOT! lol. — Kim

Image is a link to the video along with headshots of Kristin & Kim.

Continue reading “Thriving Blind & Navigating Blindness: Acceptance & So Much More”