Public Perception

I’ve being pondering the issue of public perception of blind people.   I have often wondered why a blind person using a guide dog is perceived in a better light then a blind person using a white cane.   The answer embarrassingly enough is obvious.   Who would you feel better about a person with a well behaved dog or a person with Stick?

When I walk down the street with a white cane people are very quick to get out of the way.   They jump sometimes into traffic, not often, to get out of my path.    There is a perception of a blind person walking down the street going very fast almost out of control.  Swinging their white cane back and forth wildly.   I can actually understand people are concerned at some level for their own safety.   I wouldn’t want to be hit with a stick either. In my travels with a cane I have been the obstruction that caused  a cyclist to give their all to avoid me and end up head over heels in the ditch.   Very funny for me not for the cyclist.  It was night very dark my daughter seen the cyclist at the last minute.  I assumed the cyclist was coming from behind.  Instead they were in front of us.  I turned to look for the cyclist and avoid them instead I unwittingly blocked the sidewalk.   The rest is just physics.   I had a car back into another car to clear the crosswalk for me, you know what happened.   Many times I’ve almost tripped people unintentionally and other times well…

When I’m out and about using a cane the people I’m with are generally treated like saints.  How nice taking the poor blind man out.   People I encounter will talk to the people I’m with and not me.  Or they will yell at me like I’m deaf.   Sorry just blind.

When I walk down the street with a guide dog.   The focus shifts from me to the dog.    The blind person almost becomes invisible.   People talk about the dog and not you.   They ask where is your guide today.   They want to walk the dog for you and feed the dog etc.    People will come up and talk to you and ask to pet the dog.    There is much more social interaction because of the dog.    It’s a great way to connect with people.    I have some great friends who I met though my guide dog.   Since my guide is now retired they take me for rides instead of taking the dog for a walk.   I have not caused any turmoil while using a guide dog.   At least none that I’m aware of.   Me as the blind person am no longer a threat to anyone how could I be me and the nice puppy.

I actually feel better when I’m out in public when I have a guide dog.   People that are with you are no longer looked at as saints for taking the poor blind man out.  They are considered partners or relatives or friends.    I as a blind person am not treated like a leaper or someone that is going to accidentally run you down.   No one yells at me and people will actually talk to me.

About the Author:

Kyle has ocular albinism and has been legally blind since birth. Kyle leads a very active live and is besides his professional career involved in many projects for persons who are different.

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