Helping a Blind Man See

Paying attention to signs is so relevant to everyday life. It’s easy for me to say that because on a spiritual level, I’m in tune with my body and ¬†physically, I am an able-bodied person who has the literal ability to see.

I recently attended a meet-up catered to freelancers in Baltimore, and one of the people I met was a graphic designer who’s work can be found in children’s museums across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the U.S. Up until that event, I never even thought about who actually created these types of directional signs, but ever since our conversation, I’ve been noticing how signs are (or aren’t) placed.

Today, while taking the metro to the city, a blind man entered the train. As he sat down, he used his cane to navigate which seats were empty, and began to tilt his head forward and towards the doors so he could hear where the next stop would be. I watched as he tried to figure out when his stop would be, by assuming he either was counting the stops in his head, or was waiting to listen for the announcement over the intercom system…which never came.

Up until that point, I never noticed that the 15 minutes prior to him stepping on the train, the conductor never made an announcement to let us know which stop we were at or which stop was coming next. I got emotional and frustrated at the same time while being empathetic to the man in front of me. If the particular car we were on was empty, would he have even been able to get to his destination? Why wasn’t there an automated announcement telling us which stop we were approaching? Why is this [metro] system so broken?

I thought about why I cared so much – maybe it’s because I’m so immersed in being in spaces that are inclusive, I’m more sensitive to those who haven’t had a voice. I thought about the irony of how disconnected the transportation system is in Baltimore to the people who actually need the service, and I thought about how can I help.

The man stood up from his seat, moved his cane around and asked “which stop is this?” in which I replied, and he left nodding,¬†right in my direction.

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