Accessible Journeys magazine Winter 2022 | Page 37

disabilities . He sometimes travels with his mom to attend events to which he ’ s a special guest , or to make television appearances . While this may be scary for some children , to Ashton , it is exciting and gives him the perfect opportunity to awaken others to the fact that blindness is just a different way to experience life .
And , he experiences many delightful things . One of the family ’ s most memorable experiences was going whale watching . Ashton loves the ocean and sharks . Although he could not see the whales , the guide ’ s descriptive explanation of what was happening , plus the toy whale he held in his hand and the sensation of ocean spray on his face all combined to make this an experience he ’ ll always remember . He intends to be a marine bioloist like his role model , Geerat J . Vermeij . Vermeij has proven that people with blindness can successfully pursue an academic path and conduct scientific research . Ashton hopes to follow in his footsteps .
Ashton is brave , smart and possesses an inquisitive mind which is fed by travel . He was invited to attend the National Braille Press conference in Boston this past October . Ashton spoke to a huge crowd of 300 about challenges and great things about being blind . He had the chance to visit the National Braille Press in Boston and got to touch the first Braille writing machines . During that Boston trip , he visited the aquarium , the children ’ s museum , strolled along the streets and highly recommends Boston Harbor as a place where the visionimpaired can visit as there are many things they can enjoy here .
Ashton ’ s mom , Hilda , shares that family trips are always worth the additional effort . It teaches the siblings to care , love and look out for each other . It also teaches them to appreciate things and others who are different . Ashton experiences things with his heart and senses not his sight , which is special . Hilda believes others can learn to experience life events through senses other than sight , which most people never consider . Ashton may never see the ocean clearly , but he can feel the water , find shells and other ocean objects , smell the salt , and much more . It is his world to conquer in his way .
Hilda and her family knows that life and its travel enjoyment does not stop because their child has a disability . While challenges may arise , learning to overcome them allows the child and family members to grow in ways they may never have were it not for the disability . She encourages families to get out and explore the world .
Ashton is doing his part to help spread the word about blindness being just a different way to experience life . He hopes to write a book someday and while he is not yet sure what he wants to write about , Hilda encourages him to put his thoughts about his life , travels and other interests on paper until it all comes together . Travel is at the top of that list .
Whether it ’ s hiking in the mountains , a visit to the ocean or enjoying a museum , each trip is something this family considers memorable . Ashton ’ s blindness is never a deterrent .
Follow this family ’ s journeys and experiences on Hilda ’ s instagram acount @ ourblindside and stay tuned for Ashton ’ s first book on . . . travel .
Ashton shares his wow travel experience on page 48 .
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