Last week, I wrote a brilliant (or not) blog post on the expectations of my capabilities by extended families which are brought center-stage during the holidays. This week, I had a conversation on Twitter which brought to mind the idea that many blind people have expectations of our own which are going unmet.
This week, Apple released its Apple Watch, and the blind community was all aflutter because Apple store employees were not familiar with Voiceover (the screen reader software built into IPhones). Here’s a sample tweet:
Now, should employees know what is pre-loaded onto their devices? Yes! I wouldn’t want to buy a computer if I didn’t know if any software was included or what version of Windows it runs. But perhaps because the blind community can be considered a bit of a small world where everyone knows everyone else), I have seen a lot of flack given to store employees for not instantly knowing about something only a small market share of their customer base rely on.
This is just one example – admittedly not life-threatening – of expectations not being met. But do we not do the same things sometimes ourselves? If we’re not treated the “right” way, do we not get offended? If we are asked questions about how we perform everyday tasks, do we not sometimes sigh heavily in answering the same questions again and again? If we have a job interview, does our blood not sometimes boil when we are told that we can’t possibly use a computer, and we have to not only describe how we can but act like a trained monkey by demonstrating these skills?
And yet the general public fears what they do not know. I’ve stated this before, that vision impairment is feared more than death. So few of us exist that we sometimes need to take a step back and realize that just because WE know 50 other blind people, the general public will seldom encounter us. Do we have the right to be treated like adults? Yes! Do we have the right to be left in peace to go about our shopping, eating, walking, living? Yes! Do we have the right to be considered for jobs for which we are qualified without jumping through hoops? Yes! But until such point as we are considered humans first and disabilities second, that’s not likely to happen. So do we not have bigger problems to worry about than weather a high-end brand’s store employees know exactly what this built-in software is, how to activate it, and how to walk people through it? I think we do…