Living with a disability is not easy and can make people feel invisible. For those of us who are fortunate not to struggle with one, it’s hard to understand what it’s like to walk a day in their shoes. A man in London decided to show exactly that—what it’s like to see through his guide dog’s eyes.
Amit Patel worked as a doctor in London until he started losing his sight three years ago. Diagnosed with keratoconus, a disease that changes the shape of the cornea, Amit is now completely blind in his right eye, and has lost nearly all sight in his left eye.
Fortunately Amit has his guide dog, Kika, to help him navigate the streets and trains of London, which he travels through almost every day. As if getting around wasn’t hard enough, sadly Amit and Kika face daily abuse by fellow commuters and transit employees. People hit Kika or step over her to get by, and often don’t extend the common courtesy of making a seat available to Amit on the train.
“Kika always sits to my left hand side so we often block the escalator and people will hit her with bags and umbrellas to get her to move out of the way,” explains Amit.
To help others understand what they go through, Amit has been attaching a GoPro camera to Kika’s harness. His wife, Seema, views each day’s footage and posts selections to Twitter.
And it’s not just physical abuse. Amit and Zika endure many unbelievable interactions on a daily basis.
“One lady even said I should apologize to the people behind her for holding them up. I asked her if I should apologize for being blind and she said, ‘yes.’” remembers Amit. “Sometimes I wonder who is the blind person when there are people glued to their mobile phones.”
Amit says losing his sight makes him feel very lonely, especially when people he encounters aren’t friendly. However, Amit is grateful to have Kika, who is one of only five percent of guide dogs trained to navigate an escalator. Kika even saved Amit’s life once from a car that ran a red light.
“Kika saw the car, got in front of me and took the hit—the car grazed her nose,” says Amit. “It was three days before she could work again.”
Amit hopes that his video footage will encourage people to think twice the next time they see someone with their guide dog. A little courtesy goes a long way.