Karen and I usually wake up to a prominent morning radio show and listen while we get ready to take on the new day. This show features a middle aged man and woman who mix contemporary soft rock music with their own commentary, callers and guests. The show is usually a family oriented, witty blend of music and entertainment.
The woman lives 15 to 20 miles away from the studio. This morning she was whining and complaining about all the traffic on the freeways. She does this on a fairly regular basis. Each time she does this, it makes me think about my own situation as a blind person. While she has access to independent, reliable automobile transportation on demand, I must wait for the city bus, Dial-A-Ride or a taxicab! Sometimes, I have to be concerned about whether or not I am going to arrive at work, class or a doctor’s appointment on time. I feel that, when this woman complains about the traffic on the freeways, she just doesn’t have a clue what she’s talking about. It would be interesting to see how she would feel if she found herself unable to drive her car!
The lesson to be learned? If you don’t have a disability, don’t complain! Dawn your glad rags and realize that you take your ability to get around independently for granted! Take just a moment to think about how it must be for those of us without complete control over our transportation before you whine about how it took you ten more minutes to drive to work this morning! You have it easy. It is all up to you. For you, life is largely a meritocracy. Your life is ultimately all about the effort you are willing to expend in order to be successful. The world is designed for you! It is sometimes slightly different for those of us with disabilities. As a blind person, I must concern myself with the ability of the city bus or the paratransit service to get me to work on time. I lose out on excellent job opportunities due only to the fact that a lot of software still doesn’t work with the screen reader I use to gain access to a computer.
I fully understand that this article may hurt some feelings. Nevertheless, this just has to be said. If you’re not disabled, we just want you to understand that you often take all your capabilities for granted and don’t usually give them a second thought. It is very difficult for some of us to hear people without disabilities complaining about areas of their lives where they have it much easier than us. So, next time you’re frustrated with the slow pace of the traffic on the freeway or your slow computer, stop! Don’t complain! Think about how it must be for those of us who are blind or have other disabilities! Despite our challenges, we continue to work hard, to strive for a better life. When you’re frustrated with your small issues, consider channeling that energy into helping us improve our socioeconomic status! Volunteer to read to a blind adult or child. Write your software in a way that is accessible to JAWS and other screen readers and access technology. Please, take the time to think about us once in awhile!