вЂњNo Irish whiskey,вЂќ you might reply for yourself. How would that sit with a server who asked such a question? After all, He treated you as if a child!
Do we want to be treated as children?
Of course not. We want to be treated as anyone else. We might need some special assistance with a special type of task. Blind people benefit from others вЂњLending their eyesвЂќ.
I often ask my wife, вЂњCan I borrow your eyes?вЂќ
This often happens when I am on the web and want to sign up for something. They have these anti-spam systems that ask you to, вЂњType the letter you see in the box belowвЂќ. Often my wife struggles to read them, too. The вЂњAudio captureвЂќ fairs little better. We both have old ears that donвЂ™t always hear clearly.В My wife and I have learned to dance around our disabilities.
I havenвЂ™t danced with many other people, have you?
Getting to know the moves or needs of others can be difficult. I struggle to read bus numbers. Seeing these strangers will tell me the number. Some times that leads to a pleasant exchange.
вЂњWhich bus are you waiting for?вЂќ
вЂњThe fourвЂќ is my usual answer.
: Me too. It should be along shortly.вЂќ Little do they know that I just checked the schedule on my phone? Still the technology wonвЂ™t tell me which of the three busses that just pulled up is the four. I must rely on my eyes or others for that.
Back to the server who didnвЂ™t know how to approach a blind person. What can you do besides making the server feel bad? Naturally we want to defend our honor. We trade insult for insult. We stand up for ourselves.
Does that get us better service? Probably not. How might we get respect?
I usually tell the host, вЂњI will need some help with the menu,вЂќ as I make my white cane obvious.
When the server arrives I say, вЂњI will need some help with the menu. What are the specials?вЂќВ This keeps the relationship respectful and I retain some control.
Besides setting the tone of the relationship what might we do?
Several years ago a national convention of blind people came to town. As a board member of the local chapter, we prepared to hotel for their arrival. A week before the event we met with staff and went over the arrangement. Since many of our members have guide dogs, those special needs needed to be addressed. Lots of dog urine on the sidewalk would not be good for business. A special site was assigned for dogs to relieve themselves, and staff instructed on how do direct guide dog users to it.
Crossing busy streets causes problems as well. Guide dogs help but not all of us can work with them. You might have noticed beeping at some intersections. This comes from Accessible Pedestrian signals. Organizations of blind persons have worked with governments and engineers to create these. The newest ones will tell you when it is safe to cross which street. Imagine walking across a street only to realize it was the wrong one, especially several blocks later?
I have covered three ways to be assertive yet respectful.
- Education of others, and
- Collaborating with local government.
Can you recall examples of other ways to prevent, вЂњDoes he take sugar?вЂќ
As All Ways, Seek Joy,
Coach Dr. Dave
Host of the upcoming podcast: Recipes for Lemonade; thrive thru Disability