“What does she want to order?”
“Can you sign him in?”
“Can you take her upstairs?”
On today’s blog post, Holly writes about how it feels to be talked over as a disabled person. All too often, if we choose to enter a place of business with a nondisabled person, staff will interact only with the nondisabled companion, sometimes quite explicitly ignoring our voices with questions like “What will she have to eat?” Of course, besides being an ineffective mode of communication (my friend can’t read my mind), such maneuvers are dehumanizing and disempowering for the disabled person.
Holly also brings up a related issue: the assumption that nondisabled companions can automatically serve as scribes, interpreters or in other access roles. For example, the clerk who insists that my sighted spouse help me fill a printed form instead of taking my dictation (as they would do if I came in alone). Of course, at times our family members or friends are happy to help facilitate access, but it shouldn’t be assumed that they have an obligation to do this.
A Girl Wreathed in Shadow