In crowded areas such as train stations, public transport, big organisations, public venues, there is a diverse group of people who attend all these places and naturally, it would include people with mental health issues, physical disability, autism, hearing and/or vision impairment. Have you ever considered that the person beside you may have difficulty recognising body language, interpreting the ‘unspoken word’, issues with personal space, or simply not noticing someone in front of them or beside due to their low vision. They could be sensitive to loud sounds, or glarey windows and so what they notice may be limited.
I was with a couple of teenagers with a vision impairment the other day on the train. We got on a crowded train, so moved towards the yellow solid bars hanging down from the ceiling of the train. If we didn’t have this to secure ourselves, we could become unstable. Three of our students were using their ‘cane’ to assist with their mobility. Most seats were taken and a few of the students said they would just remain standing. Now, I’m not saying that every person with a VI requires a seat BUT there will be occasions where sitting is a much safer option and depending on their medical status in addition to having a vision impairment, preference may be to sit down. Many people were sitting in the ‘Emergency Seating’, unsure as to whether they were ‘entitled’. There was no offer from anyone sitting to give up their seat to another person. Half way through the trip, I managed to find some seats that were vacated by people getting off the train. Nearing the end of the journey a person who had been sitting beside one of our teens stood up, positioned her body towards the direction to get out but stood there, said nothing and waited. It wasn’t till I signalled to our teen as I was sitting opposite him, and alert him to the person wanting to get through. The person’s friend also then proceeded to walk through, once again without a word.
I don’t think it’s just us ‘getting old’ when we notice respect and manners are lacking in the generation of today. How many times have you been in a crowded place, possibly aware of someone closeby but not sure what they are doing? The person then pushes through, we say ‘sorry’ ! Should we be sorry? What are we apologising for? All the person needed to do was say ‘excuse me’. I don’t think it’s that hard. Why are people afraid to ask the question, assert themselves, advocate for themselves? Or are they just being obnoxious and expecting the stranger next to them to know what they want?
This topic could become a program for teens run over a number of weeks. No doubt, a lot of followers on my pages are probably not the ones who need to take such note but it can give you an opportunity to reinforce your expectations of your child, student or relative. And ask the schools about how they are teaching the basics of respect for all.
Below is a drawing (of a girl & her dog knocking before entering a door through to where someone is sitting at a desk, reading or writing at a desk) and written piece by a student
– it’s simple and basic but takes practice and good modelling.
Equity for everyone
Say sorry, please and thank you
People deserve respect
Ensure that everyone's rights are respected
Carry respect into all of your life
Take time to respect yourself
NDIS Registered Provider no. 4050011793
Kerri Weaver is a service provider for children with disabilities.