GoPro cameras aren’t only useful for extreme sports and extravagant selfies, they can also expose some of the troubles people have to deal with on a day to day basis. That’s what one doctor used it for after he found himself abused constantly on the public transit system in London, England. The reason for this abuse? He’s blind, and needs a guide dog to help him.
Amit Patel was in his final year of medical school when he found out he had keratoconus, a condition that usually results in an eventual loss of sight. After delaying it for years with surgeries to replace his corneas, he lost his sight for good in 2012. Within 48 hours, he was completely blind. “I woke up every morning thinking I’d get my sight back. For about six months I was quite shut off,” he told the BBC.
Patel now uses Kika, a guide dog, to traverse the subway and rail systems. It was the continued abuse of both his dog and himself that led him to strap a GoPro to Kika and record his interactions with staff and other pedestrians.
He claims that Kika gets pushed out of the way or hit with umbrellas while she’s leading him, and people will avoid helping him in any way. In the video below, Patel waits for five minutes without being helped by a transit officer. They only respond after he shouts for help several times.
Kika is one of a small percentage of guide dogs that will take their owner on an escalator, where Patel says he gets harassed the most. One woman even told him to apologize for being blind when they were blocking the way for a moment.
Patel, a father of one and former emergency doctor, now helps with guide dog training and the RNIB. He still says that the hardest part for him is accepting that he’ll never see his baby son, but also explains some weird side effects: “I have small pixels of light coming into my eyes and my brain interprets that as images. It’ll put four pixels together and build a photo – so you may be sitting on the couch while thinking a car’s coming towards you.”
He claims he has footage of taxi drivers driving right past him, or people taking seats on transit before he can get to them. “One of the things I noticed with losing my sight is how lonely it is. If I’m travelling by public transport I will be the scared little boy sat in the corner” Patel says, painting a very depressing picture of how we treat those less fortunate.