A blind man has strapped a GoPro camera to his guide dog to record the daily discrimination he faces during his London commute.
Amit Patel, a 37-year-old former A& E doctor, lost his sight in 2012 and relies on his guide dog Kika to navigate his way around the capital during rush hour.
The decision to fit his guide dog with a camera came out of frustration over the number of incidents that he faced on a daily basis, but could not see for himself.
“People barged me out of the way, Kika got abused, hit with umbrellas, bags, ” he told Mashable .
When that he gets back home, his wife Seema reviews the video to see if they have done it deliberately, and then shares videos and pictures on Kika’s Twitter account to raise awareness.
One particularly bad incident involved a woman who had a go at him for holding everyone up on the escalator: “I was with my 2-month old baby on my chest, the dog on the left side blocking the escalator. A lady came running behind us. I told her I couldn’t walk up the escalator because of my dog. She had a go, saying was going to miss the train due to my dog, ” Patel said.
Despite these incidents, Patel says 99% of the time he has no issues whatsoever, and he encounters genuinely nice people. But 1% of the people are “rude and arrogant”
“People distract her (Kika), get in the way, try to be funny or bump her, ” he said. “Some parents don’t care and have their children screaming at the dog or petting it so I have to kindly tell them she’s working and ask if they can wait until we get on the train. ”
“Once someone told me that since I have a guide dog I should be respectful if she wants to pet the dog. ” he said.
On another occasion, Patel was humiliated on the bus by a lady who shouted for 20 minutes that your dog had rabies and should get off. He says nobody came to his defense.
“It’s difficult enough to travel across London imagine with eyes shut, no useful vision at all, ” he said. “One thing I’ve found being recently blind is the loneliness. I rely on Kika and on hearing. But I always try to leave the house with a smile on my face. ”
Patel lost his sight in 2012 because of a condition called Keratoconus , which changes the shape of the cornea. He underwent six cornea transplants, but each one was rejected by his body.
Despite the negative episodes, Patel is warmed by the helpfulness of the staff at Transport for London (TfL) who joke that thanks to Kika, that he doesn’t need them anymore and the occasional friendly voice at the train station that simply asks: “Hey man, I’m standing next to you, are you OK? ”
“It’s embarrassing shouting around for assistance. I’m just a Londoner who wants to blend in with the environment, don’t want to cause attention. ”
“Once I got off at the wrong station and Kika got lost. A guy saw me from the distance and walked over to me, touched me on the shoulder and asked if I needed help. He took me all the way to the right one. ”