I am A severely visually impaired woman. I am very lucky to have a wonderful guide dog called Jackie. However we are constantly accosted by primarily unwonted verbal attention. For example people come up to me wave their hands in front of my face and go well you don’t look blind! If I travel on public transport people relentlessly callout questions when I should be allowed to remain quiet in my private space. Also, in supermarkets even though my guide dog has a massive sign on her back saying do not touch me I’m working people relentlessly come up and thrust the dog which means she becomes disturbed and any activity like shopping becomes untenable. Recently a man pushed me and my shopping trolley out of the way as he went past. My guide dog was attached to my trolley and she was badly shaken. There have been times when I have been in shops waiting to pay and somebody distracts my dog which ends up in my shopping and contents of my handbag going everywhere.
So for me it’s more verbal. I may have a dog and indeed hopefully that puts off and wanted physical attention however the public still feel they have the right to throw endless questions at you about the most private thing in your life which is your I diagnosis. Coming to terms with going blind is a massive thing to deal with so this additional unwonted attention can be very detrimental to one’s mental health.
Criminologist and Co-Director of Centre for Gender Studies at University of Sussex