Diversity and Harassment Training

Today at work we had a state-mandated training on harassment and diversity. My favorite part was a film about a third grade teacher in Iowa in the late 60s who brainwashed her entire class in order to prove to them that prejudice can happen. My one-sentence description doesn’t do the film justice. You should see it–I should probably rewatch it.
James and I had an awkward few minutes during the training. We were told to pair up with people we didn’t know to find out what we had in common with them. There were plenty of people in the room I didn’t know, but because we are blind, it was difficult to find them, let alone figure out who already had a partner and who didn’t. So rather than run into people and interrupt, we chose to wait and see if people came to us, and they didn’t. James said the experience was reminiscent of his childhood. I couldn’t help but agree. I tried to get the instructor’s attention, but that didn’t work. So we ended up talking about having this experience of not being able to find people in common, even though we definitely knew each other.
In my psychology of visual impairment class, we learned a lot about how visual impairment can make social interactions
difficult–well, my classmates may have learned it, but I definitely knew it already from my own experiences. If we’re with other blind people, they get it–otherwise we have to hope for a sighted person with the got-it gene, the kind of person who says our names when talking to us so we know we’re being spoken to.
I’m hesitant to post this sort of entry, because I’m not necessarily looking for sympathy. It happened, and now it’s over, and it certainly didn’t hinder my overall development as a human being. But I did want to share a bit of the feeling of the experience and to archive it for myself.

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One comment

  1. Somehow, in a previous time, I think you and James and even I would have had a markedly different experience in the type of training you described. “Training” seems a misnomer since few if any of your classmates seemed to have learned anything relating to interaction with people who have disabilities. Which, after all, used to be part of the core mission of your workplace. RIP, dear RFB&D.

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