I was queuing for tickets at Nottingham station last weekend and realised that I had missed a free counter. No big deal as there was plenty of time before my train and not too many other people waiting.
It was then that I overheard a woman say “I know better than to help blind people.” She’d obviously seen me miss my slot but for whatever reason, felt that she couldn’t, or didn’t want to help me.
I can think of two possible reasons for this off the top of my head.
1. The Guide Dogs Association, in my opinion, are too prescriptive about their message to the public. “Don’t distract a working guide dog”. That to me says, don’t go near the blind person. It reinforces the opinion all too often held by many of the general public, that blind people are to be feared and that our dogs are super beings who do everything for us. If the Association did a bit more public educating, as well as the cute ah factor fund raising, we’d all be a lot better off I’m sure.
2. The second reason is even more worrying. Many blind people are fiercely independent, to the point where they shun help if it is offered. Independence is great, but I feel its important to maintain a good relationship with the general public as there is always going to be that one time when we really do need help. Sadly, human nature dictates that, if a member of a minority group displays bad behaviour, or rudeness, the whole of that group will be tarred with the same brush. Sad but true. I often accept help when I don’t particularly need it, just to engage in conversation. And if I don’t need it or want it, I try to turn it down politely.
No I’m not a saint, and yes, I’ve snapped at people sometimes but I do try not to.
I wish some other blind people did the same. Yes its hellishly frustrating being blind, often on a daily basis, but its not the fault of the person who offers help across a road.
Rant over. Perhaps I’ll be able to sleep now!!