Guide

I learned how to be a guide for a blind person, the signals one gives with one’s arm to indicate the road ahead. I had been watching how one of our nearly blind participants would always arrive with a colleague who he called his ‘driver.’  This morning I offered my hand. It turns out one doesn’t offer a hand but rather an elbow. The movements of the arm then produces the signal that an opening is narrow, or that people are coming this way, or that one has arrived.

In the world of (physical) disability one talks about ‘reasonably accommodation’ which is what we do for these workshops on the UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities. It is the choice of a hotel (ramps, elevators, wide doors, accessible toilets) and adjustments for the time it takes to do written assignments or self-evaluations. It also means reading everything that is written on a slide, against everything we have learned about presenting slides, and making the text available in 28 point, the smallest print our participant can read. None of these are automatic reflexes for me. This program has made me more aware of the complexity of living with a disability and how easy things are for me, even with the recent shoulder problems.

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