First week of February: my birthday month and the month I transformed my writing into something more.
Around here, we are receiving a lot of snow right now, last night especially, and this reminded me of those days when a snow day off of school was a big deal.
Ah, the good old days.
It’s also Groundhog Day today and I think they are at odds with one another and I am too. Can’t seem to agree on how much more snow is to come.
It’s not like I don’t have a sense of humour, but I don’t really pay much attention to the idea, joke or not, of a rodent telling us when winter will officially end.
I suppose they may know something I don’t, being out there in that environment on a daily basis, but I ride out the cold and the snow because I live in Canada and I’ve accepted it. I even like it.
Last week I took a break from my usual Memoir Monday posts. My last one, from two weeks ago now was:
Now, here is today’s question.
Q: Have you experienced discrimination because of disabilities?
A: A lot of times, as I have discussed in previous posts, the discrimination I feel isn’t something outright. It is more of a subtle undercurrent to be felt.
It isn’t appropriate to be directly discriminatory and such behaviours would be generally frowned upon by the rest of society.
However, I have come up against some instances and some people, for whatever reason, that stood out to me, to this day.
First, there were some of the battles and the people my parents went up against to get me into school as a child. This, they met with an expected amount of resistance, but I was too young and unable to witness this, or at least I remember none of it.
Second, there was the time my grandmother took my brother and me out for lunch in our town.
I had a guide dog then. We walked all the way through a restaurant full of customers, sitting at their tables, just to be told that the dog couldn’t be there.
This was a Chinese buffet restaurant. Perhaps there were cultural differences and misunderstandings. I understand. I can be sympathetic.
However, it felt like a humiliation at the time, being told, very quietly I must add, that we could stay but the dog had to go outside.
I did not fight this and neither did my grandmother. She wasn’t really much of a fighter. We ended up all leaving, rather than simply putting my service animal out in the car.
Third, well there was the time a ride operator at an amusement park didn’t want to let my brother and I go on his ride. It wasn’t even one that went up-side-down. I think we got on, but it was another awkward situation.
Fourth, like the Chinese restaurant, there was one more occasion where a pizza parlour did not want my guide dog in and wanted us to tie her up outside.
This time we went home and contacted the head office of the establishment and demanded an apology.
I know not everyone will understand the purpose and the distinction between pet and service animal. There are cultural differences, like the many doctors of Asian or Middle Eastern descent who have walked into my exam room, only to notice the dog there and to be noticeably uncomfortable. This is something I’ve encountered, but they still examined me. I promised my dog wouldn’t attack them and they did their jobs and checked me over and that was that.
Fifth, there was the recent incident where I wanted to try walking around the outside of the CN Tower in Toronto, only to read on their website that people with visual impairments were on the list of those they did not permit.
This time I wasn’t about to let go and I kept on them, going through the young female operator, her manager, and finally the Operations Manager to plead my case.
I let them know that I could handle it and that I wasn’t about to let it go. I stayed firm and I got through to them. It ended up being one of the best experiences of my life.
And finally, I am working on writing a blog post about the recent experiences we’ve had with descriptive audio services at a local movie theatre. I don’t like to make a scene or a stink and cry “Discrimination” without cause and before I look properly into a situation.
I am learning, as I get older, that I have to stand up for myself and make noise if I want to be heard. If I feel discriminated against, in any way big or small, I need to say something instead of just staying my usual timid, quiet, shy self.
I know most people are good and kind and don’t mean to be discriminatory, but it happens and I want to be prepared and confident enough in myself, for any occasions when it may happen yet again.
These are only a few of the examples I can relay, that I have experienced, as someone born with a visual disability.
Next week, for the
I answer the opposite of today’s question:
Have you experienced preferential treatment because of disabilities?