Setting the Right Tone

I have a background in linguistics and have a habit of paying attention to what people say and how they say it.  Tone is something that pops out at me immediately.  Just the other day I was waiting on the train when a man said something simple both to me and to the group behind me. The subtext of his tone nearly knocked me onto the train tracks.  The phrase was “the train is coming.”

To me “the train is coming” translated to “you better step back, because I don’t trust you not to throw yourself in front of the train even though you are standing behind the truncated domes and haven’t shown any signs of incompetence or lack of balance.”

To the group behind me “the train is coming” translated as “the train is coming.”

There is such a mistrust with me and other blind people on the train platform. I mean, honestly, we don’t practice our gymnastics routine on the MARTA platform, people pee there. (and you thought it was only limited to the elevators). I’ve started walking on the truncated domes (AKA little bumps at the edge of the platform) when I’m told to “move over sir!”

Patronizing tones are a frenemy for me. I enjoy collecting outrageous examples, but hate when they’re aimed at me.

I was on a first date when a man asked what I did for work and when I told him I worked in an office he asked (seriously) “Really? How?” I forget what I said next, but it could easily be interpreted as “check, please!”


People with disabilities have the right to be independent, make decisions for themselves, have access to their community and to achieved goals in life like any other individual. disABILITY LINK is committed to promoting the rights of ALL people with disabilities.
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