The shocking questions disabled people have to put up with

Reposted from a story by:DANIEL PIOTROWSKI July 10, 2013 3:35PM

Woman told “you smell” by cab driver on July 4
Melbourne taxi company 13CABS apologise
Disabled face intrusive questions everyday
‘A woman asked if I had a vagina’
?Why do you look like that??

Editor and comedian Stella Young has been asked invasive questions by people on public transport.

WHEN a woman with an extremely rare skin condition was told “you smell” and asked “what’s wrong with your face” by a Melbourne cab driver last Thursday, it was yet another humiliation for an Australian with a disability.

As Carly Findlay – who has ichthyosis, which makes her appear flushed – experienced, people with disabilities and disfigurements say they often get stared at and asked insensitive questions when they’re out and about.

Sometimes they’re just flabbergasting.

“The weirdest question I received was from a woman on the train who asked if I had a vagina,” said editor and comedian Stella Young, who has the brittle bone condition osteogenesis imperfecta and has a wheelchair.

How on earth do you respond to a question like that?

Everyone is different. Ms Young, who works the comedy circuit, said she usually answers with a bit of fun, turning their questions into a joke. “It’s much more satisfying to embarrass them and point out how stupid their question is,” she said.

Last week, Ms Findlay responded to her rude taxi driver by leaving his vehicle and saying: “F— you.” She later told it “might not have been the best” reaction, but she was angry having been abused by taxi drivers twice before.

It’s fair enough for people to strike up an honest conversation, says Craig Wallace, the president of People With Disabilities who is also in a wheelchair.

But people should be upfront and have tact about it, as many disabled people are uncomfortable going out in public because of the attention they receive.

The most common question, for instance, is often: “What’s wrong you with you?”

“Most of us are used to questions,” said Mr Wallace, particularly from curious children. “Being straight up is much less offensive.”

cab driver

Writer, activist and blogger Carly Findlay lodged a complaint after a cab driver said to her “you smell” and asked what’s on her face.



The best option is to strike up an honest, good-natured conversation with a disabled person, Mr Wallace said, particularly if you have any concerns.

Sunshine Coast mother Alison Asher’s six-year-old daughter, who she did not wish to name, has the metabolic disorder Pyruvate Kinease Deficiency. Her daughter often requires transfusions and appears jaundiced, often bringing on impolite questions about why she is yellow.

Share your story with this reporter:

The worst encounter the mum and daughter experienced was with a “dimwit” at a discount store, where a man repeatedly asked about her daughter’s condition, believing she was sick.

“Do you know she’s yellow? What’s wrong with her? Oh, and her teeth are all rotten,” the man told Ms Asher, who responded angrily.

“I lost it, leaned in close and said: ‘And you sir, are ugly, and an idiot, and your teeth stink. What’s wrong with you?'”

UK charity Changing Faces created a guide on how to ask someone about their disability, disfigurement or condition. You can read the full guide here.

• Say ‘hello’. Engage in normal casual conversation – talk about the weather or the news.

• Express interest in something about them, for example, ‘You’re my first customer today. Would you like some more coffee?’

• Don’t make ‘what happened to you’ the first question you ask – wait until you know someone better or they bring it up.

• If you’re still curious, ask ‘do you mind if I ask what happened’, but be prepared for the fact they may choose not to answer.

Continue the conversation on Twitter: @drpiotrowski | @newscomauHQ


Read more:

Author: disabledaccessdenied

I am a disabled woman who through no fault of my own has wheels under my ass. I rely on the decency and common sense of local, state and federal goverments, as well as the retail community to abide by the disabled access laws and provide adequate ramps, disabled toilets, and not use them as store rooms or broom closets. This blog exists to find the offenders and out them, inform them, and report them if necessary and shame them into doing the right thing when all else fails.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s