November 16 2022
People think persons with disabilities are defective and, of course, only receivers of care. The mental image most non-disabled persons have formed of a blind person is the helpless lone character, holding a white cane and wearing big black glasses.
I first interacted with a group of blind and low vision individuals, when I was 22 and questioning if I belonged to this community. All I can say is that I found varied personalities: the shy, the strong, the chatty, the rude and the creepy. I knew that I would end up being in touch with most of them.
It taught me about empathy and diversity, and introduced me to friends with whom I would never have crossed paths if I were not blind. The beauty of the community lies in how ready so many people are to offer not only their support but also help from their support systems.
As a community, we have subverted some gender stereotypes. Here it is not necessary that a man will drop a woman home, or pick her up for dinner. It is really whoever is more comfortable with their mobility or navigating the outdoors.
We book taxis for each other and check on people when they reach home, not just for safety but to encourage each other to take baby steps out of parents’ over-protectiveness. We always watch out for each other.
The best part is you don’t have to explain why you are you. You don’t have to be apologetic about being lost on the street or for taking time to sort out currency notes, or asking for assistance to get to the toilet, or for making the waiter read out the menu to you.