Jo Verrent is the Senior Producer of Unlimited, a project which funds and gives mentoring support to disabled artists to produce ambitious work.
As part of our End the Awkward campaign, Jo shares some examples of people’s innocent ignorance when it comes to disability.
I was working in a restaurant as a waitress and a customer put in a complaint as I had been ignoring him.
I just hadn’t heard him try and get my attention as he’d been whistling and shouting at me, but all whilst I had been facing the other way. He thought I was being rude deliberately.
It all ended up with him accusing me of making up being deaf as he said I spoke perfectly fine and, on being shown my hearing aid (which is a bone anchored one) – saying that it was an MP3 player!
He just couldn’t accept he was wrong and so preferred to make up ludicrous reasons why I wasn’t deaf instead!
Err thanks… But I don’t use a wheelchair
One time I went to a big theatre to assess a piece of work by a company of disabled artists and the theatre had been told that I was coming and that I, too, was disabled. So they took out my seat so that a wheelchair could fit.
Only I don’t use a wheelchair, I have a hearing impairment, and also one that impacts on concentration and fatigue – which means I really need to sit down. Only I couldn’t, because I had no seat anymore!
Reversing the awkward…
I also have been woken up a couple of times now on the train with people nudging me and saying ‘I hope you don’t mind me waking you, but I’m curious to know what’s in your head?’ etc.
To my shame I did once tell someone it was a mechanism I had installed after a failed lobotomy to control my aggression… they left me alone after that! That probably did make them feel a bit awkward!
Find out more about how Scope is ending the awkward this summer.