Talk To Her!

Being the mother of a blind child, I have seen first hand how most people are very supportive. Some people even go out of their to be helpful. Oh, there are those who cast the occasional stare that they think went unnoticed, when my daughter, Shantel, and I walk by, or the rude teenager who will jump over Shantel’s long white cane when we are walking in the mall. But, for the most part, I haven’t had too many bad experiences when I’m out with Shantel in public. However, there is one BIG pet peeve I have with the general public to this very day in regards to their interaction, or lack of interaction,when they first meet Shantel, and she is out with me. What I have witnessed over and over again is that most people will not talk directly to her. They will ask me questions about what Shantel wants, needs etc. but it is very seldom that I come across anyone, who doesn’t know us, that will speak directly to Shantel first.

For example: Shantel had an appointment with a new doctor the other day. Since it was a new doctor and Shantel was not familiar with the office layout, I walked her into the exam room as her sighted guide. When the nurse came in to take Shantel’s blood pressure, temp, weight etc… she looked at me and asked “what is she seeing the doctor for today”? I turned to Shantel and said “Shantel would you like to answer her questions? Shantel explained why she was there and the nurse again turns to me and asks “what is her medical history? I told Shantel she could respond to her questions which she did and the questions continued on in this manner until I finally said, very nicely, “Shantel is eighteen and can speak for herself if you would like to direct your questions to her”. The nurse looked at me very surprised and said “oh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude…

If we go to a restaurant, even when we are escorted to our table with Shantel using her cane, the hostess will always put a printed menu down in front of Shantel as well as giving me one… And, more times than not, the waitress or waiter will ask me what Shantel wants to drink and eat. Even when Shantel is trying to tell them what she will have, they will still look at me and ask if “she would like lemon in her tea or fries with her sandwich”?

Last week Shantel made an appointment to have her nails done. When we walked into the nail place, Shantel stepped up to the counter to let them know what she there for and still the woman looked at me and asked “does she  want acrylic or gel nails, and what color would she like”? Of course, I very nicely let the woman know Shantel made the appointment and is paying for the service and she would need to direct her questions to Shantel.

Being Shantel’s mom, of course I realize I am very comfortable being around her, and I understand some people many not be comfortable being around people with special needs and disabilities, but I think if anyone is going to work with the public, they need to get comfortable with people with disabilities and special needs so they don’t come across so obviously unprepared and even rude. What do you think?

I also have to say that Shantel is not the only person I’ve seen being treated like she can’t speak…I’ve also noticed the same type of behavior with other people with disabilities including those in wheelchairs and the elderly. When my mother still lived with us, and I would take her out shopping or to get her hair done etc, I would have to take her wheelchair because she couldn’t walk long distances etc…and again, I noticed people would ask me what she wanted done with her hair, or when we went to a restaurant, they would ask me what she wanted to eat as well…

What is it that makes people think people with disabilities and/or elderly people can’t speak for themselves?

I sure hope if I ever get old (not likely but it could happen) or if I ever have a disability, other than my already very apparent little flaws and “issues”…and any of you see me out in public… I really hope you will come right up and talk directly to me. And, even if for some reason I can’t speak (unlikely but one never knows), if its happy hour, I will still love to have a glass of wine with you:)

Next: Changing Bodies!

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. gotham girl
    May 27, 2012 @ 20:22:59

    Don’tcha just want to slap the shit out of these people!!! I experience this as too with people who know my dad. Now that he has Alzheimer’s they don’t include him in conversations. They don’t even have eye contact with him! It drives me CRAZY!!!!! Just a couple of days ago I sat down beside the cutest elderly couple in an old diner here in the city. The wife leaned over and told me her husband had Alzheimer’s. Well don’t you know that we had the best conversation!! Great topic and I’m sure so many people can relate! This is why people need to read your blog! Love you! and MORE!


    • beyondcinderella
      May 28, 2012 @ 01:49:31

      Yes, Frissy, sometimes I do just want to slap these people, especially those in the medical field because we expect more from them…I so totally understand what you are saying about your dad, and people not even having eye contact with him. It’s like if they don’t look at them they don’t have to face the fact that they are there and perhaps “they” need to learn how to address them and live in the world with them…Hopefully, we are going to make an impact in our little corners of the world, one person at a time, by bringing these issues up each time they arise…MORE! Gh


  2. Colleen
    May 28, 2012 @ 04:41:37

    One reason people may not address her directly is they may not know how to appropriately get her attention so that she knows they are speaking to her. I’m not excusing anyone’s behavior, especially when it is clear that they have her attention. But how do you politely ask a question if you don’t know a blind person’s name?


    • beyondcinderella
      May 28, 2012 @ 12:27:39

      That’s a great point Colleen and one well taken. I just know at least for my daughter, Shantel, when we discussed this she says she would appreciate, if someone doesn’t know her name, if they simply say “excuse me miss, can I get your name” then direct their questions to her. Thanks for stopping by my sight and your comments. I hope you will continue to visit my blog. Virginia


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