Siobhan Meade column: How can someone without a disability sit and say nothing...

Siobhan Meade - Romania visit

Siobhan Meade - Romania visit - Credit: Archant

Should you offer your seat to a blind person?

If you’re a decent human being, the answer to that is yes, how could you not? This is a question many are asking me after a high profile case of former A&E doctor Amit Patel’s story being featured in the media. You may remember an impatient London commuter tried to push by Amit with his guide dog on an escalator.

Recently, the blind dad tweeted how upset he gets when people fail or refuse to help him find a seat.

Personally, I am almost always happy standing, but everyone’s mobility and confidence is different and balance and coordination can vary depending on eye condition. If you offer me a seat on a short journey, I’ll probably accept as long as you have one to move to. Others may be uncomfortable in standing or have such poor balance they may lose the confidence to go out. Not all people who are blind and visually impaired need a seat but how can someone without a disability sit and say nothing while someone who is disabled could be struggling?

Travelling around airports, bus terminals and unfamiliar cities is pretty stressful anyway, but imagine making these journeys with no sight at all? That’s what I do when I head on holiday to explore and scary though it is, there’s no better way to get to know a culture and people than throwing yourself in to their busy environments and asking for any help you might need.

A year ago I wrote about my journey to Bucharest to run a confidence workshop for young ladies who have little or no sight. This took a cab to the train station and sought help from staff to connect to Stansted. Three and a half hours on a flight and we landed. I was heartened to find friendly Romanian locals rallying to help me, and the staff understood that all of us are just one accident or condition away from a life-changing disability.