When a 37-year-old doctor strapped a Go-Pro camera to his guide dog Kika, the blind father was shocked to learn about the unseen discrimination he faces multiple times a day. With the assistance of his wife Seema, Amit Patel discovered many people are doing horrific things directed at him and his dog, knowing that he can't see them.
Amit lost his vision five years ago because of keratoconus. He has heard the rude comments, the snickering and snide snippets people say, since he's blind, not deaf. But the video shone a light on his mistreatment that has gone viral.
The Patel family lives in London and Amit uses public transportation to get around town. His guide dog Kika has the GoPro attached to her back harness. Every day, Amit uploads the video to his computer and his wife helps him review it.
Seema provides the eyes that see a woman placing her bags on an empty seat, preventing Amit from sitting down. She sees people not getting up from their seats to allow him to sit. She also heartbreakingly sees people deliberately hitting her husband and Kika with bags and umbrellas.
As one of only five percent of guide dogs trained to escort owners onto escalators, Kika will get very upset with people who hit her or barge past her. She's doing her job and that's to help and protect Amit. But he was horrified to learn how they mistreated not just him, but also her.
"It all started when people barged me out of the way [on the escalator]. They have loads of space to get past, but they seem to think it is fun to barge into a blind person. Kika always sits to my lefthand 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."
Twitter/Kika_GuideDog In fact, Amit has had strangers demand that he apologize for "holding people up" on the escalator. One woman's sharpbarbsdirected at him were abhorrent.
"The worst part is the tutting and negative comments behind me. People are so rude and arrogant and assume they can do whatever they want ... 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.'"
When Amit is forced to take a different train or bus route because there is a closure and he's in unfamiliar territory, he needs help. But his requests for assistance from station staff usually go ignored. In fact, footage shows him waiting five minutes for help even though station employees are staring straight at him. Taxi cabs will zoom by him without stopping and others will touch Kika even though it's an unwritten rule that no one is to touch a service dog.
"People even walk right up to me but then swerve at the last minute. They also come up to Kika and touch her and distract her while she is walking, which puts her off."
One car even hit Kika while she was trying to save Amit's life from the speeding vehicle. He was in the crosswalk going through an intersection when it was his turn to cross and a car barreled through, running a red light.
"She saw the car and she got in front of me and took the hit. The car grazed her nose. It was three days before she could work again."
Watch some of the appalling video Kika captured on the GoPro.
As a blind adult, Amit has learned to be as independent as he can be, but still needs help. He said that losing his sight was "very lonely" and when he travels by public transportation, he feels like a "scared little boy in the corner." Can you believe what strangers are doing to Amit and Kika?