I’m Blind, Therefore I Can Neither Speak Nor Hear

As I walked to the corner, after getting off of the train, a woman, who had already been standing there asked if I was crossing. I said, yes; and she told me to wait. Which is already what I’d planned to do, as there were cars passing by, but I didn’t say that. I just waited.

“Okay, you can go now,” she said after a few moments. And we crossed.

“Wow, you look really nice in the black,” my mom says, approaching me from the opposite direction. “And your hair ‘(she meant the new color I’d died it)’ goes well with it too.” (

As I took my mom’s arm, the woman who’d crossed with me said something, or made some motion that I didn’t catch. But it prompted my mom to say that she was my mother.

“Oh wow,” the lady says in response. “Her hair is so nice. Is it her’s? Or extensions.”

“It’s my hair,” I said, more offended that she’d spoken as though I weren’t there than at the question. It wasn’t the first time someone had asked that.

“It’s really pretty.” She continues.

“Thank you.” My mom and I say in unison.

Um…. I’m confused as to why my mom also responded. She and I have gone through that many times, as both her friends and strangers have spoken about, instead of to me. But she’s one of the few, if not the only, person in my life who doesn’t seem to understand why it’s a problem.

Well, I’m a 20-year-old (whoa, am I a woman? It feels wrong to say girl) who can speak for herself. Many people don’t even do that to kids. They may use a patronizing tone, but they might still speak to the child. But even if they don’t more often than not children won’t care about something like that.

Imagine being in a situation like that, where your with a friend and someone comes up to you both, and compliments you to your friend.Wouldn’t you be annoyed, or frustrated?

I’ve also had people bless the people I’m with. Are they a saint for taking out the blind girl? Does it have to be an act of pity and not friendship?

A waitress once blessed my dad as he began to read me the menu. It was a little surprising as he’d just threatened to speak with management (it was a chain restaurant), for not having braille menus for me. But it was still an adorable sight watching a father read to his college-aged daughter. No amount of threats could ruin that.

Why does being blind, or having some sort of disability automatically change how we are perceived in some people’s minds? I realize that sometimes approaching a disabled person may be a little daunting, especially if you’ve not done it before, but why not, instead of speaking slowly, or pityingly, or talking not to us but about us, or whatever other annoying habits the able-bodied have when it comes to the disabled, you just approach us like “normal”, fellow human beings? And then adjust to match the person. I don’t think anyone’s gotten mad at someone who treated them with respect or the courtesy of assuming that, other than their impairment, they are capable members of society.

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