Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Caught between kindness and patronization

In my humble opinion, there is a very fine line between kindness and patronization; something that many of my blind friends often tell me.  I know that there are many kind persons in the sighted world who definitely mean well when they set out to help a blind person in need but more often than not kindness can either come across as patronization or be misconstrued for the latter.


I for one prefer to take the high road and accept someone's help as kindness as opposed to patronization but I can tell you that in some cases, patronization definitely does show its ugly head.  How can I tell the difference you may be asking?  By tone of voice, and through action.


If someone responds to me in an offhand manner, then I may think of it as patronization.  For example:  If the security guard at the airport tells me to sit down and relax after I have asked for my cane because they have taken it away from me.  Or, and I am not sure if this is kindness or patronization; someone takes me out of a line without asking and puts me to sit on a chair that is out of the way.


For me, I need to make sure that it is kindness and not patronization.  This is important for me because I do not want to offend the person offering assistance.  A wrong move on my part could easily lead to the person offering assistance deciding not to help a blind person in the future.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and inviting you to go out there and help educate others.  Visit to learn more.

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