Few weeks back I had attended an event that was all about inclusivity ( post-https://www.aartikrishnakumar.com/2018/09/inclusivity-and-everyday-ability.html).. that event in fact got me thinking- how accessible are most places for people with any kind of disability, be it physical or otherwise.. Here are two incidents I came across the past week that I wanted to write about….
It so happened that day before while getting back home, I shared cab with a guy who was visually impaired(blind).
It’s not like I haven’t seen/come across / interacted with such folks but this was the first time I was travelling with one. I had no issues but quite the contrary.. I asked how he used the phone and he also told her about a software he had installed that converted all text into audio and everything worked on the Double click concept. After a few seconds I saw him holding the phone in reverse to his ear and struggling with typing something .. the page open was the Über help/support page and he was
trying to raise an Issue.
I watched him struggle, and therefore proceeded to ask if he needed help, he explained that the earlier cab he had booked did not turn up plus the cabbie had done the ride without him in it and he had been charged for it and so to raise a complaint on the same issue… He then handed the phone to me with a warming and a smile “You have to double click everything, see if you can do it, else just guide me”
It took me good 5 minutes to even get the hang of his phone, how to use it leave alone complete the complaint… I kinda figured it out, managed to scroll to the right section and handed the phone back to him when I realised I was going to be at it all day if I tried to type text in the box. He managed to key in his grievance, asking me for help with spelling now & then and was finally done…
Phew! I was tired…. And to think he goes through something like this a million times through the day.. Over the next few minutes till my destination arrived, we chit chatted and I watched him make calls, send Whatsapp messages on his phone.
When we turned into my street, he said aloud “Have we reached, where are we, i have no clues” [in tamil]. I then proceeded to tell him where we were and asked where he had to go, and gave a ballmark sense of how long it would take and the tentative route to his office…
We parted ways as I reached my destination. But I kept thinking “What if the cabbie was a shady guy, what if he just took this guy on a goose chase or robbed/hurt him?”… I shivered at the thought. It also made me realise how we take so much for granted. And how Google maps or Uber needs to do something to announce the location/navigation for the visually impaired. Else these folks are constantly at the mercy of others to take them around… Sigh!!
think about it while I go clear my head and write about the 2nd incident…