Former doctor Amit Patel unexpectedly lost his eyesight five years ago to keratoconus. Since then, he has not been able to see the way people look at him or discriminate against him and his guide dog Kika in public places, but he still knows it's happening.
While the father-of-one said people are usually very accommodating of him and Kika, he also noticed that some people like to bump into him even when there is sufficient space for them to walk by without touching him.
Therefore, in order to document what goes around him and raise awareness about the matter, the 37-year-old strapped a GoPro camera onto his guide dog as she helped him navigate around London, United Kingdom.
Every day, his wife, Seema, would go through the footage and tell him about the little things he wouldn’t know otherwise — like how a woman on the train placed her bag on an empty seat next to her so that Patel wouldn’t sit there.
“It all started when people barged me out of the way, they hit [Kika] with umbrellas, bags, I get shoulder charged every day and when my wife looks back at the footage she can see they have done it deliberately,” he told ITV News. “They have loads of space to get past but they seem to think it is fun to barge into a blind person.”
Kika is apparently one of the 5 percent guide dogs who are able to help their owners use the escalators. However, when people hit her with things, she gets upset and refuses to go near the escalators for a few days.
“Kika always sits to my left hand side so we often block the escalator, and people will hit her with bags and umbrellas to get her to move out of the way,” Patel added. “The worst part is the tutting and negative comments behind me. People are so rude and arrogant and assume they can do whatever they want.”
Patel — who volunteers for RNIB, Action for Blind People and help new guide dog users at Guide Dogs for the Blind — also recounted a disgusting incident when a woman told him to apologize for causing inconvenience to other commuters. When he asked if he should also apologize for being blind, she said “yes.”
Several videos also show people ignoring Patel’s pleas for assistance and blocking his way for no reason at all.
“Sometimes I get a train with my 4-month-old son and I say quite loudly, ‘Kika, find me a seat,’ but no one budges,” he continued. “Sometimes the only way I get a seat is to scratch Kika behind the ears so she shakes a little. No one likes a wet dog.”
Just as it goes with the skin color, race, gender — or any other characteristic for that matter — a person’s disability does not give anyone the right to discriminate against them.
Patel uploads the video of his daily commute on the internet to raise awareness about the mistreatment and abuse he and people who suffer from the same ailment as he face every day of their lives.
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