Being blind and a guide dog owner, the following post struck a chord with me (http://viscourse.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/public-property.html). In it, Deborah, a visually impaired guide dog owner, describes how a lady interrupted her conversation with a friend in order to ask whether she could pet Deborah’s guide dog. When Deborah said “no” the interrupter left in a huff, which to me is remarkable given that she had rudely interposed in a conversation in order to gratify her desire to pet Deborah’s (working) guide dog.
I, like Deborah find that unthinking people regard visually impaired individuals as public property. The worst instance I can recall of this occurred some time ago. I was crossing a busy road when a gentleman began stroking my guide dog, Trigger in the midst of stationary vehicles! On other occasions people have asked me deeply personal questions regarding my relationship status. Such enquiries would not have been addressed to a non-disabled person, yet those posing them think it is acceptable to ask whether I have dated disabled or non-disabled women.
I recognise the importance of educating people and am usually happy to answer questions provided they are sensitively phrased and put in a respectful manner. I am also delighted for people to say hello to Trigger but only when they ask politely and by so doing they don’t put my safety and that of Trigger in danger.
Noone, whether disabled or non-disabled should be considered as public property.