Today I had two experiences with being treated differently because of my blindness, or to be more specific, the fact that people can see my white cane. The first was while walking with Miss J at lunchtime. We passed an old lady pushing flyers onto anyone who went remotely near her... and she didn't come over to us. I'm so used to this that I didn't give it a second thought.

"Doesn't it bother you that hawkers don't come near you?" asked Miss J. "They always hassle me, but when I'm out with you it's never happened."

"That depends. If they're just giving out written material it makes sense that they'd avoid someone who has a white cane because most people assume your sight is bad enough that you can't read normal print if you've got one. The tin-rattlers really bother me, though. There seems to be an underlying assumption that they can't ask me for money because I must be poverty stricken even though I'm wandering through the CBD during lunch hour with food in my hand and wearing vaguely professional looking clothes. Though granted," I said, looking down at my long black skirt and velvet top, "most people don't wear velvet to work."

Then this evening I was standing on the train platform trying to figure out which train was coming next. This can be tricky at the best of times; they have a habit of changing assigned platforms without announcing the change and/or without changing what's on the screens on the platform. So you might get an announcement of the change, but if you can't hear you're screwed. Or you'll get a visual cue, but nothing auditory. I use both to kind of piece together the information. Things don't always come on time, either, so memorising the timetable will only get you so far.

Even when everything seems to be arriving as it should it can be tricky. I'm lucky because the train line I catch has a much longer name than anything else which comes in on those two platforms, so I can guess the sound by the number of syllables and the word on-screen by how much space it takes up. Unfortunately, these strategies only work when everything else falls into place. With daylight savings there's a lot of glare on the screens making them hard to see, and the noise level at peak hour can drown out announcements.

So I was squinting at the screen trying to get my head Just So in an effort to see the damn thing when a well dressed stranger came up and tapped me on the shoulder.

"You're going to Station x, right?" he asked.

I nodded.

"This is your train. Hop on."

He followed me in the door. I can only assume he gets this train regularly, and has noticed That Blind Chick getting out at Station x all the time. Like the hawkers, this is a mixed blessing. On the one hand it's good that people can pick out who I am and that they pay enough attention to see when I need help. On the other hand it's also a little bit creepy to have strangers know which suburb you live in when you have no way of independently finding out the same information about them.


crypticgirl: (Default)

Most Popular Tags

Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags