News and opinions on disability
and inclusion

Assumptions

5/6/14 · Posted in Accessibility, valuing people

We are all guilt of making assumptions about people. Sometimes assumptions are mostly harmless, other times they can cause serious problems.

People often make negative assumptions about people they perceive as different. Have you ever made assumptions about a person because they have an impairment or come from a different ethnicity, religion or income group?

Assumptions can be a major barrier to including people in the community. Sometimes the assumptions can be so entrenched that people cannot, or refuse to, see past them to actually see the person in front of them.

Below Susan talks about her own experience with people making assumptions.

Susan is a member of the Blind Foundation and of the CCS Disability Action’s Access group. She researched disability issues for her Masters Degree and takes an active interest in public attitudes towards disabled people.

After being invited to a black tie wedding in Australia in April, I set aside two days to visit shops to find a suitable dress. As I entered each shop with my guide dog, therefore obvious sight loss, I was either ignored or asked if I was having a nice day.

Assumptions about disability, or the word I prefer, impairment, seem to abound when one is in the process of making a purchase. Young shop assistants assume we do not work, have no money or taste and could possibly want to purchase nice clothing. In one shop, of the over twenty I visited, I did manage to gain the offhand assistance of a young woman who directed me to the specials rack. Their refusal to serve me has left a bitter taste which may take some time to dissipate.

Eventually shop assistants in a very upmarket clothing store suggested several dresses which appealed to me, but with zips in the back would have been impossible to wear. I returned to my local expensive dress shop, was served immediately and purchased the lovely and quite exquisite dress I had tried on the previous day. The shop assistant was polite and respectful on both occasions; I experienced no reference to my ability to pay or a negative attitude towards my sight or guide dog. Interestingly, I am always served and treated with respect in those clothing chain stores I visit regularly for my day to day wear.

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