Part of a Whole

My name is Nicolas Steenhout.
I speak, train, and consult about inclusion, accessibility and disability.

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Blind And In A Wheelchair

I was both shocked and amused by the comments of a couple women a few years ago. I was zooming down the sidewalk on a sunny summer afternoon. I was wearing my wrap-around sunglasses. I was with my mobility assistance dog.

In fact, Wix was pulling me along, running with her ears flapping in the wind and her tail wagging. She enjoys pulling my wheelchair and running madly. Well, she enjoyed it when she was younger and not arthritic.

We were next to a café with outdoor tables on the sidewalk. We had to slow down to make sure we wouldn’t run into tables or bowl people over. That’s why I was able to overhear part of the conversation between two women sitting at one of the table.

The bit that I remember was this:

Isn’t it sad? Blind *and* in a wheelchair…

I was gobsmacked! This woman saw the dog, and assumed Wix was a guide dog. Since I was wearing sunglasses, that just confirmed it for her. So there was I, blind, and paralysed.

I was so surprised I didn’t say anything. In retrospect I should have shouted “but I’m not deaf”, or some such.

I have to admit, I find it kind of funny.