While on a flight back to Los Angeles, a teenager stepped up to the plate to help a man who was deaf and blind, after the cabin crew couldn’t.
15-year-old Clara Daly helped 64-year-old Tim Cook – who’s both deaf and blind – to communicate with crew members on a flight going from Boston to LA, with one stopover.
Originally, it wasn’t a flight Clara was expected to take so her chance meeting with Mr Cook was a fortunate one.
Ms Daly and her mother were meant to take a non-stop flight back home from Boston to LA, to their home in Calabasas, California, but a last-minute cancellation meant they were put on an Alaska Airlines flight, which had a layover in Portland.
Which is how Clara came across Tim, from Oregon, who was finding it difficult to communicate with the flight attendants due to his condition.
Lynette Scribner, a passenger who was on the same flight, wrote on Facebook:
I saw this gentleman, Tim, in Boston’s Logan airport with the sister he’d been visiting – it appeared he was both deaf and blind, as I observed her signing into his hand for him to feel her words.
When he came aboard the plane he’d been assigned the middle seat of my row. The kind gentleman who had the aisle seat graciously gave it up for him. At this point Tim was traveling alone.
The flight attendants sincerely wanted to assist him, but had no way to communicate. I watched as they didn’t flinch when he reached out to touch their faces and arms. They took his hand and tried so hard to communicate with him, to no avail.
He had some verbal ability, but clearly could not understand them. The man who’d given up his seat did his best to assist him with things like opening coffee creamer and putting it in his coffee.
Lynette’s post went on to say, Tim tried to stand up and ‘feel his way to the restroom’. The person sat closest to him even assisted him as he tried to navigate his way around the plane.
Keen to help Tim during the flight, the cabin crew asked if anyone on board knew sign language, which is when Clara put herself forward.
Lynette’s post went onto say:
She learned ASL because she had dyslexia and it was the easiest foreign language for her to learn. For the rest of the flight she attended to Tim and made sure his needs were met.
It was fascinating to watch as she signed one letter at a time into his hand. He was able to ‘read’ her signing and they carried on an animated conversation.
When he asked her if she was pretty, she blushed and laughed as the seat mate, who’d learned a few signs, communicated an enthusiastic yes to Tim. I don’t know when I’ve ever seen so many people rally to take care of another human being.
All of us in the immediate rows were laughing and smiling and enjoying his obvious delight in having someone to talk to. Huge kudos to the flight attendants of Alaska Airlines who went above and beyond to meet Tim’s needs.
I can’t say enough about this beautiful young woman named Clara who didn’t think twice about helping her fellow passenger. It was a beautiful reminder, in this time of too much awfulness, that there are still good, good people who are willing to look out for each other. #alaskaairlines
According to CNN, Clara was able to use a technique called finger spell to communicate with Tim.
I went to [Cook] a total of three times, once to get him water, another to tell him the time, and the last hour of the flight to just talk to him.
From their conversations during the flight, they learnt a lot about each other. Tim asked Clara about her life and she discovered that he used to work as a salesman.
Cook, who lives in a care home for the deaf in Gresham, Oregon, had lost his vision and hearing as an adult, according to Heather Hunter, a spokeswoman for Brookdale Senior Living, the company which runs the home where Tim stays.
Clara (who went to school in Boston) and her mother flew out to visit her grandmother who lives there, while Tim explained he had a sister who lived there too.
Tim explained, because of his condition, he’s used to ‘feeling isolated’.
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