The woman behind it all
Mona Minkara lost her vision at a young age. In spite of the doubts about her inability to accomplish her goals, Mona told herself that she could—and would—become a scientist one day.. With the support of her parents and siblings, she started the journey by pursuing a degree in Chemistry at Wellesley College. It was there that Mona developed a passion for research and is now an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at Northeastern University. In an inspirational speech at her Wellesley graduation, Mona shared her story, reflected on those who helped her, and her realization that those who doubted were the ones with limited vision, not her. This idea that “Vision is More than Sight” became the motivation for Mona’s career.
The “woman behind it all” has an array of achievements under her belt. To browse them all, visit
Mona has created this website with you to not only share all that she has accomplished, but to take you on a journey around the globe and show you what it’s like to travel as a blind person. Come along with her as she experiences five cities, faces challenges, overcomes obstacles, and sheds light on issues that blind and visually-impaired individuals face day-to-day in a society that is designed to exclude them (a slow improvement on that one).
If you want to learn more about Mona Minkara visit her personal website, Twitter and Instagram.
Natalie Guse
I first met Mona working as her lowly Technical Writing Assistant at the University of Minnesota. Ignited by our shared love of cheesy puns and swashbuckling adventure, a deep friendship blossomed. Through the cold Minneapolis months, Mona researched, I studied (sometimes), and together we wistfully dreamed about traveling the world. Enter Planes, Trains, and Canes—Mona’s golden brainchild for the holy grail of all adventures. Together, we worked without rest planning a documentary series so inspiring, so cheesy, and so action-packed that you wouldn’t even have to see it to be moved by it. In all sincerity, I’m honored to be a part of the Planes, Trains, and Canes team, to be trusted to capture the footage as a first-time camerawoman, and, most importantly, to have the pleasure of knowing and working with Mona. Why are you still reading this? Go watch an episode. You’re still reading. Watch them all!
Benjamin Ted Jimenez
Hello! I'm Benjamin Ted Jimenez, one of the editors for Planes Trains and Canes. By now, you've probably heard my voice throughout our episodes either from introducing the titles, or from the audio descriptions or even the closed captioning. I also handle the graphics, animations, music and more! I've got a diverse set of knowledge and experience in the video and media industry from working as a co-op at WGBH and Soundtrack Boston in the Northeast. As well as working in the independent music scene in the Philippines, planning concerts, filming promotional content and music videos with Stages Sessions. Regardless, I'm learning more and more with each episode of Planes Trains and Canes, and I'm open to feedback on how I can create a better experience for you so that we may continue to inspire new travelers out there! Reach out via our contact page if you have any questions or comments. Can't wait until we can all safely travel the world again. But for now, sit back, relax and enjoy Planes Trains and Canes! Hope you are all staying safe out there!
Anxhela Becolli
Hi! My name is Anxhela Becolli. I was the video editor for the Episode one, two, and the Johannesburg trailer. I joined the team in November of 2019. At the same time, I designed the Planes, Trains, and Canes logo, which was based off of the original logo design by Sarika Dagar. My specialty is photography and my knowledge of Photoshop came in handy quite a few times while working on this project including the design of the outro cards for the videos.
Afridi Shaik
Web Developer
Hi! My name is Afridi. I am the developer of this website, that makes me responsible for the amazing content or bugs you see here. Working on Planes, Trains, and Canes has been a great learning experience for me, and an opportunity to grow personally and professionally. I am really proud to be part of such an impactful project and a highly motivated team behind it.
Mona's application for the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired's 2019 Holman Prize was considered fun, charismatic, and witty.
Mona, a blind woman scientist, dreamed of sharing her experiences traveling around the world as a blind person. Her passion for adventure created the “Planes Trains and Canes” documentary series.
Her mission is to show what it's like traveling independently as a blind woman while using only public transportation. Mona hopes that her journey will encourage others like herself to travel and inspire improvements in accessibility for the blind and visually impaired.
Lighthouse for the blind and visually impaired logo
Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired of San Francisco
I would like to thank the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a San Francisco based non-profit organization, for making this project possible. LightHouse, founded in 1902 by Josephine Rowan, is committed to promoting the "equality and self-reliance of people who are blind or visually impaired through rehabilitation training, employment placement, Enchanted Hills Camp and other relevant services". Click the link to find out more.
Holman Prize Logo
Holman Prize
I would like to thank the Holman Prize. Their financial support along with our idea brought Planes, Trains, and Canes to life, making it possible for me to share what it’s like to travel as a blind person.

The Holman Prize is an international competition that awards three winners up to $25,000 and a chance to “carry out ambitious ideas” that push them to “challenge themselves and shatter misconceptions about blindness around the world.”

The prize aims to “support the emerging adventurousness and can-do spirit of blind and low vision people worldwide.”

Click the link to find out more.
Holman Prize Logo
Northeastern University Logo
Northeastern University
I would like to thank Northeastern University, a Boston-based institution, for allowing me to work on this amazing project while setting up my team, lab, and teaching my first class. I would also like to thank the kind and dedicated faculty and staff of the Bioengineering department who have continuously shown their support throughout the project.
blue circle
Sarika, Amanda, and Dylan
I would also like to express my gratitude to Sarika Dagar, an avid supporter of the project, who put in hours of work to help design our logo, Amanda Tiano, who did amazing work on the audio description for the Johannesburg videos, and Dylan Chhatwal, who helped write the alternative text for all images on this website.
blue circle
thank you for watching!