A blind student was left horrified after hearing a mum tell her child that they 'must have done something wrong in a past life' to be disabled.
19-year-old Kelsey Trevett, an undergrad at the University of Oxford, was on a train from London Euston to Watford when the incident occurred.
The young child, who Kelsey guessed was around 3 or 4, had asked their mum about Kelsey's cane, reports the Mirror.
Kelsey told the Mirror: "It was a direct explanation….[she said] because he’s blind and must have done something wrong in a past life. And if you don’t start behaving then the same will happen to you.
"I don’t think that’s an ignorant comment, I think that’s quite pointed.
The mum was just a couple of seats away from Kelsey, who didn't think that she cared too much if they heard the comment.
They said: "There’s this perception…general stereotype that people who are disabled can’t hear or think for themselves or whatever.
"I don’t think it’s reasonable to assume that I couldn’t hear them, it definitely wasn’t far enough for that."
Kelsey said that they often hear little comments but that most are down to ignorance "rather than intent to offend", yet this time the assuredness of the statement left them concerned.
"It’s very rare to get something that explicit," they said.
"As a person who is always willing to give the benefit of the doubt, that’s not something that comes off backhandedly, that’s something she’s either thought about or [it's come from] somewhere more rooted.
"The framing of how she said it removed any of my autonomy, any sense that I am a person living my own life and doing my thing."
After telling people about the incident since, Kelsey said they've been told "I hope you stood up for yourself".
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They said: "I was fully prepared to I just had no idea how to respond.
"I’m fairly confident when it comes to standing up for myself but I was kind of more shocked."
Kelsey, who is also co-chairman of the Young Greens of England and Wales, went on to say that education around disabilities is essential for changing such ignorant perceptions.
They said it's important that education allows children to see disability as another aspect that makes a person unique because "everyone is different".
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Asked what they would tell the woman they could, they said: "Firstly, that’s a completely inaccurate thing to say and completely untrue and unfounded.
"But also [I would want] to encourage people to see that this isn’t a punishment in the slightest – disability is not a punishment.
"It’s not something that’s decreased my quality of life…to frame disability in those terms as making your life worse or making you somehow less of a person or less worthy of personhood, is a really damaging thing to say."
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