Teen With Dyslexia Uses Sign Language to Help Deaf and Blind Passenger During Flight

A touching act of kindness by a teen with dyslexia toward a fellow airplane passenger has everyone talking.

Passenger Tim Cook, who is deaf and blind, was on an Alaska Airlines flight to Portland. He was having trouble communicating with flight attendants. According to Alaska Airlines, the attendants asked if any other passengers knew American Sign Language (ASL).

Fifteen-year-old Clara Daly rang her call button. Daly has been studying ASL as her foreign language in school. Some kids with dyslexia prefer learning ASL over other foreign languages, since there’s no written spelling to master. Daly said she’s “always been fascinated” by sign language.

Daly came to Cook’s side, and signed letters into his hand throughout the flight. She had to sign each letter of every word so he could understand her.

“I sat with Tim a few times on the flight and toward the end for about 30 minutes,” she said. “He just wanted to talk.”

Other passengers also stepped in to help. One gave up his seat so that Cook could sit near the aisle, and helped him to the bathroom.

But it was clear that Cook connected with Daly. She told CNN that she and Cook talked about their families in Massachusetts and about Cook’s past as a salesman. Cook even asked Clara about her life.

Daly’s good deed has since gone viral thanks to a post by fellow passenger Lynette Scribner. Scribner shared a photo of Daly and Cook on Facebook. The post has been shared nearly 700,000 times.

Alaska Airlines also took several photos and gave them to Daly’s mom, who posted them to Facebook. “After the flight, 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,” she wrote. “Proud of my girl.” (Read the whole post below.)

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About the author

About the author

Tara Drinks is an editor at Understood.