Before you read this please keep in mind: my goal is not to demonize or shame people. A lot of the ableism I have encountered since I lost my “eye sight on 27th October 1997” are things
others with vision loss have been working to fix for generations. My ableist behaviours that I wasn’t aware of in the past can hopefully serve to open other
people’s eyes (blind pun unintentional). It was privilege that allowed me to ignore my lack of knowledge.
I used to be a shy and easy to inculcate ideas.
My goal here is to help and highlight ways that can become steps to build change. I hope that we, together, will be working towards understanding how us
actions and words establish an environment that puts up barriers, destroys ambition and steals independence.
Through this we can promote social inclusion.
What is being ableist or ableism? I will let you go to Urban Dictionary for a far better description than I could probably come up with:
Who does it? I know I have, my family, friends and of course random strangers do it. How does someone stop themselves from doing it? We, we can start
by not making assumptions, by asking questions, and recognizing that the person with the disability is the expert on their situation.
This is a huge subject, just like racism, sexism or any other form of bigotry – there are overt and covert ways it occurs. I don’t know enough to point
out all the different ways it happens. This paragraphs post isn’t going to be nearly long enough to cover more than some of my experiences (because that’s
what I know). Taking that in account, I want to explore it, make people aware and maybe stop someone from offending a person just because of their incorrect
list of 5 items
1. It’s the person that thinks you can’t do something because you have you can’t see or have other ________ disability.
2. People that assume that when you blind you can’t even hear!
3. The person that just starts “helping” without knowing what you are doing or are able to do.
4The subtle and not so subtle ways people treat you differently.
5The people that think they are just more capable at doing things because you have ______. blind
6 The people that are sure they know a cure for my Blindness______.
list end7. Able bodied Actors and comedians, MC
‘s who act as Blind or other disabled individuals!
check out Nairobi Memoires and get the life time experiences recorded in 2015 2016
I know what I am capable of (most of the time) and at times acutely aware of what I can’t do. Part of learning to adjust to living with a disability is
figuring that out and building solutions to make stuff work for you. It is sometimes a real challenge to find an issue and then coming up with a solution.
Everybody with a disability or impairment does this, even those who discover that the best option for them is to choose not to do something.
On any given day, in the city of Nairobi I have been grabbed by strangers (at least twice) in an attempt to give unwanted and misguided assistance. They grab my arm to guide me, grab
my cane to steer me and try to pull me into the street while I am waiting for the light to change.
One day my Whitecane brokedown after the push and pull!
Sometimes people have good intentions but at list communicate!
Recently I was chosen to be part of a interview, a story for another day. Sometimes even in the job market when they see a blind or vision impaired person, they assume I couldn’t participate. Sometimes not given a chance to display the skills They thank me for my time and
sent me on my way. As someone that is Public scholar, I believe we have a long voyage.
, this reminds of what I will have to deal with.
Learning, problem solving, and dealing with a world not built to be accessible is hard and at times overwhelming. Then, you work through it and next time
it is hopefully easier. Having people that assume you can’t don’t make it any easier. Just dealing with people that make my mobility difficulties worse
can be exhausting. Finally, there is actually doing things I want/need to do.
I thank Canberrans for their humbleness and understanding.
You are guys from another planet.
I admire the communication when we meet.
To the Nairobians, the next time you encounter a person with a blind and vision impaired, don’t make any assumptions. Some of us have undergone through a pretty extensive training on using a white cane,
crossing a street and orienting ourselves while travelling.
Thanks to vision Australia and guide dogs am confident and I am able to travel with ease.
The same goes for people with hearing, physical, mental or any other disability. In some ways the folks with invisible disabilities have a much more difficult
existence. You look like you aren’t disabled to other people but meanwhile you are trying to find ways to make a world not designed to be accessible to
bend, and to not be a barrier to doing the things we want/need to do.
At the same time, about privilege. Some people have lived their lives without a vision impairment my way of adjusting may appear different
than someone that has dealing with this for years or a lifetime. None of it is wrong, the way you respond might be. Judgement, assumptions, and lack of
knowledge is what I feel are the greatest barriers.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy expert and diversity and inclusion.