Toby Addison is a 21-year-old footballer who was born sighted but started to lose his vision dramatically from the age of 11. By his early teens, he had lost 80% of his sight and now has around 4% of his eyesight remaining.
In 2019, Toby visited a new gym for the first time. He was working out on a treadmill when a woman approached him and accused him of staring at her. Toby explained that he was blind and had his cane with him, but the woman refused to believe him. She called him a creep and demanded that the staff kick him out.
The staff did as the woman asked, and Toby was forced to leave the gym. He was humiliated and angry, and he felt like being blind was a problem.
“I was just trying to work out,” Toby said. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
Toby’s experience highlights the importance of being aware of the challenges that people with disabilities face. It is easy to make assumptions about someone’s intentions if they are different from us, but it is important to remember that everyone is an individual.
“I just want people to be more understanding and empathetic towards people with disabilities,” Toby said. “We’re just like everyone else, we just have different challenges.”
Toby’s story has a happy ending. He has since become a TikTok sensation with over 250,000 followers. He uses his platform to share his experiences as a blind person and to raise awareness of the challenges that people with disabilities face.
“I want to show people that being blind doesn’t mean you can’t do anything,” Toby said. “I’m living proof of that.”
If you see someone who is blind or has another disability, please be understanding and empathetic. Don’t make assumptions about their intentions, and don’t judge them based on their disability. Treat them with the same respect that you would treat anyone else.
Quote from Toby Addison:
“I just want people to be more understanding and empathetic towards people with disabilities. We’re just like everyone else, we just have different challenges.”
Link to Happy Hour Podcast episode: