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Brooklynite.
Out and around.
brooklynite
brooklynite
Out and around.
My sister can't read.

Her disability usually isn't obvious when you meet her. And when she's home visiting my parents, she spends a fair amount of time out in the city on her own. She takes the bus, she shops, she goes to restaurants. She gets her nails done.

My dad gives her her walking-around money as five-dollar bills to limit how much she can lose if someone decides to cheat her when giving change.

But like I say, mostly her disability is invisible. And when folks do notice, they're usually cool about it.

(I remember once, years ago, I was out with L and we got into some sort of awkward situation. I wanted to explain to the woman we were inconveniencing, and so I said "she's..." And then I wasn't sure how to finish the sentence. The woman said "a little slow." It wasn't a phrase I'd ever use myself, and I cringe a little typing it, but she said it with love, and when she said it I felt myself unclench. We were among friends.)

But here's something I wish I could tell everyone in the city: Not everyone can read.

I see it at least once a month, when I'm out and around. Someone on the subway or the street or in a shop will ask a question. "Is this the 14th Street stop?" "How much is a Big Mac?" "What kind of iced tea do you have?" Usually, whoever's asked will answer appropriately, but too often they'll glance up and say "read the sign."


My sister will take a menu when she's offered it. But she can't read.

She'll flip through a magazine when she's bored. But she can't read.

She has a library card. But she can't read.

She's 32 years old, and she looks like any other 32-year-old on the subway. But she can't read.


My sister is good at keeping her disability to herself. She likes keeping her disability to herself. When she's out on the street, away from all of us who know and love and worry about her, she's just another New Yorker. But every once in a while, she could use a little help maintaining her public face.

As we all could.

Today is Blog Against Disablism Day, and you can read. Go read.

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Comments
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 1st, 2006 06:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Regardless of when or whether you finish your dissertation, you're my hero.
-C1
brooklynite From: brooklynite Date: May 1st, 2006 09:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
2923 new words on paper since I woke up yesterday morning. We're in the home stretch.
willendorf5761 From: willendorf5761 Date: May 1st, 2006 07:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
One of the things I love about my Community Mediation Program is that we read *everything* out loud, always. No one ever has to pretend she forgot her glasses.
tellinellen From: tellinellen Date: May 2nd, 2006 04:02 am (UTC) (Link)
this is something i never think of when i'm out and about. thank you for writing this.
brooklynite From: brooklynite Date: May 2nd, 2006 11:28 am (UTC) (Link)
It's something that becomes impossible to not think about, once you start thinking about it. Spread the word...
From: (Anonymous) Date: May 4th, 2006 09:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Lovely...L's Mom
tellinellen From: tellinellen Date: May 5th, 2007 04:05 am (UTC) (Link)
"Usually, whoever's asked will answer appropriately, but too often they'll glance up and say "read the sign."

i saw this happen today!!! at naidre's! and i only picked up on it because i had read this post recently. the customer asked if they had any breakfast sandwhiches, and the guy said yeah and pointed to where they're listed. and then the customer looked at the chalkboard briefly, and then started asking specific questions about if they have this or that.

i'm going to say something the next time i see him behind the counter, i'm sure it never occured to him at all.
brooklynite From: brooklynite Date: May 5th, 2007 12:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
You should post about that encounter. Spread the word!
tellinellen From: tellinellen Date: May 5th, 2007 01:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
i was planning on it and hopefully still will, but all my e-energy has gone into being the center of a psp brouhaha that makes a hat's gender seem like a walk in the park.
brooklynite From: brooklynite Date: May 5th, 2007 03:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
No pressure, or hurry, of course. In fact, now that your antennae are up, you'll probably keep noticing similar exchanges --- you could just post about the next one.
meestagoat From: meestagoat Date: May 1st, 2008 03:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for posting this; my brother can't read, either, but he "looks" disabled, so people don't always assume he can.

(I found my way here from the main BADD post.)
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