The Dutch Prutser's Blog

By: Harald van Breederode

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Does a blind person have the right to have an opinion?

Posted by Harald van Breederode on January 29, 2009

Yesterday evening I was traveling home by train after having dinner with a friend. Suddenly a lady walks into the cabin asking people if they were willing to fill-in an evaluation form because the Dutch Railways are interested in their opinion about traveling by train. So she starts handing out forms and told us she would be back after a while to collect them again. By the time she approached the row I was sitting she paused and starts staring at me and my mobility cane. (I assume). I said “Yes, this is challenging!”. And instead of offering me assistance she said “Indeed” and remained totally silent. I responded with “Well, this says enough” and she continued handing out forms to the other passengers. So apparently it doesn’t matter what I think about the service the Dutch Railways offers me because I am blind. I must admit that I didn’t ask for assistance but I am still not sure if I had to. What I do know is that I felt totally ignored and that didn’t make me happy. So the question is: Do I have the right to have an opinion?


11 Responses to “Does a blind person have the right to have an opinion?”

  1. Quite simply, yes.

    The treatment you received was unforgivable.

    The railway company and their agents should be ashamed, as perhaps should the other passengers who failed to help you.

    Keep up the work with this excellent addition to the Oracle blogosphere.



  2. Patrick Hurley said

    Hi Harald

    Were you surprised by this lady’s reaction to your presence or was it quite typical?



  3. Surachart said

    Hi Harald,

    About your opinion, perhaps yes…
    She shouldn’t do like that.

    I know that can make you or someone upset. But maybe she might forgot!

    Actually we can think a positive way, that’s a good way.

    Wish you have a nice time.


  4. Donald said

    It seems that if these people aren’t told what to do in such a situation, they just don’t think for themselfs.
    So yeah, I think you have the right to have an opinion, just don’t expect some poorly educated person to ask for it :)

  5. Harald van Breederode said

    Hi Patrick,

    It happens, not a lot but still. On one occasion I went shopping with my wife for a new digital VCR and I asked a question to the salesman and he started answering to my wife. We immediately left the shop. When I am not alone people sometimes ask my companion if I want something. It must be really scared to talk to a blind guy. In general I see the humor in these situations because most people weren’t trained properly, which I can understand, but if you are taking evaluations and that is your proffession I get upset.

  6. KC said

    Hi Harald,

    Perhaps the evaluation was about the nice colors and prints on the wall?

  7. Smurf said

    Probably the blond babe saw immediately that in your opinion smurfs should be banned to improve your traveling experience. She filled in the form herself.

  8. Hi Harald,

    Do you have access to Oracle audiobooks?

    I know some folks who are volunteering to read books for blind folks, so let me know if you have interest. You can reach me at this e-mail:

  9. Martin said


    Of course, it matters.

    Sorry, but this is about the previous message. I don’t know how a Braille display works but maybe, I think, that it’s not too simple to read and email address from a link that points to a jpg. I ask myself… isn’t it easier to write the email address instead of using a link that points to another website?

    Sure you know it already, but… if you need it, the email address from Don is

  10. Harald van Breederode said

    Hi Don,

    Thanks for the offer but I prefer reading books about Oracle using my screen reader on my laptop because it makes it easier to read the examples. In order to do so I need the book in a digital format. Since not all books are available in such format I sometimes request it from the author or publisher explaining that I am a blind Oracle instructor and that I like to read their books so I can inform my students about good or bad books they might want to read. Most authors and publishers, like Apress and O’Reilly, support this and send me the books I request but some publishers simply ignore my request.

    Talking about accessibility it isn’t really nice to put an email address in a picture. Thanks Martin to translate this for screen reader users.

  11. Harald,

    this is a remarkable incident. I believe however, that “Do I have the right to have an opinion?” is not the right question. Of course you are entitled to an opinion as everybody else is (well, I guess your question was rhetoric anyway :-)).

    To me it seems the question here is “Is Dutch Railways interested in your opinion (or anybody’s opinion, who cannot fill out the form himself in a matter of minutes)?” It seems, the answer would be “no”. Apparently the lady was not prepared for the situation, which might be an individual fault or a negligence of the corporation (i.e. not giving enough time to collect opinions in case it takes longer, not training collectors properly). That should be interesting to find out. I guess, if you ask them, they will respond that of course they are interested and will make sure it won’t happen again. The only comfort I can give you here is to reassure you that we “ordinary” customers are also neglected in many ways by big corporations, so in a way I can understand your feeling of being ignored although, of course, my situation is very much different from yours.

    I hope this does not bog you down too much.

    Warm regards from Germany

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