What can a person living with visual impairment do and what can a police officer do in an emergency?

A dog attack called our attention to the lack of harmony in the cooperation in between the visually impaired victims and the police. Katalin Veres was walking with her guide dog on the pavement in Zuglo in April this year, when a large dog attacked them. Katalin, with the help of her two sons restrained the attacking animal, and then, she reported it by phone, but what happened next, was not what she expected.

According to the national press, Katalin declared that she called 112 and asked for the police to come to the venue, while the police denied this. (Katalin demanded the record of her phone call, which she has not received yet.) We do not want to deal with it for long, the point is that the police did not go to the location. Therefore Katalin went to the district police headquarter at Stefánia street, with which Katalin had several problems

  • as a visually impaired person, it was more difficult for her to orientate in an unfamiliar district
  • she used public transportation to get there and she did not get any help from anyone
  • she had to go there with her injured dog. As soon as Zenit’s ear was stitched, the already exhausted duo left for the police headquarter.
  • it would have been easier than this, for a police officer to get to the location.

So Katalin did not feel the policemen’s appropriate intention for cooperation. (Read more on the attack here.)

In our opinion, it is worth learning from this case, therefore we would like to help visually impaired persons and the colleagues of the police as well to be better prepared for such cases. We offer education for the police’s dispatchers, what to focus on when a visually impaired person calls them. We have forwarded our publication to the press department of the police.

We would be happy if the recommendation of the visually impaired people would be considered, among those, we highlight that police should go to the location if they were asked to. As identifying their location and the circumstances of the case are difficult for the people with visual impairment, they easily get lost, they are not able to give description of a person. In addition to the more frequent dog attacks, pickpocketing is also typical.

As a first step, we have collected what a visually impaired person should pay attention to when calling 112.

What to do in case of emergency?

  1. Dial 112
  2. Tell name, indicate your visual impairment, and the fact of having a guide dog with you
  3. As much as possible identify the location. If this information not possible due to blindness or visual impairment, let the operator know for help and ask for sending a police officer to the location!
  4. Tell what happened, and the feeling of being in danger as living the scene is not safe due to blindness or visual impairment, therefore help definitely needed!
  5. Provide phone number for further contact.

We also asked our clients who use guide dogs to tell us about their experience (clients are those to whom we provided guide dogs).

Police officers did not come

A lady with guide dog told us: “Exactly the same happened to me 2 years ago, in one of the early summer mornings. I lived in the 11 th district in Budapest, and I walked my guide dog early morning. One of the local homeless wanted to kill all women with red hair for some reason, and we got in his way. We had to run so much that we got lost in Gellért hill. I called 112 and told the operator that I do not know where I am, I am blind and I am with a guide dog and a homeless person menaced me for I do not know why. The operator woman was very helpful and put the call to the police station on duty. The policemen said that they are not going to come. The operator and I were confused as she was able to precisely locate where I was. The policeman was completely (…) freaked out, that he would not be able to play searching game. Therefore, I disconnected my call and started shouting. A foreign runner came and helped me and he also reported the case, and the police came for his call, because he was able to see that the homeless person had a knife beside him on the pavement… Never call the police! First shout and then you can deal with the administration.”

“As long people do not help abled persons, how should we expect the same?”

The opinion of a man with a guide dog: “By the way, my opinion is that this is the Hungarian police, they work this way! They exactly did not give a s(..)t… on that you are with a guide dog, you are blind. This is very much depends on the person, and again depends on the operator, as lot of other things which depends on the administrator as well.”

Again, I can only see that as long as the majority of the society, the sighted, abled, healthy people, do not receive the necessary help from the police, then how can we expect them to help us in our situation, if we get into trouble?

Street thefts

The case of a lady with guide dog: “I have been robbed with and without guide dog as well. My purse was stolen from my bag both times. They approached me from the back I felt that my bag was pulled, and later on the trolleybus a lady told me that my bag was open.”

This happened to another lady with guide dog: “They tried to pickpocket me too, when I was with my guide dog. We were walking on the Ferenciek square in the underpass, I had a buckled backpack with two pockets on the sides. I felt that my bag was pulled, I reached out and grabbed an arm. I had enough time to scratch it and shout, and the dog already was pulling on. Luckily, I had everything, but I felt very vulnerable, and the situation was unfair.”

Setting the phone – seems to be a good method

Another lady with guide dog said: “Nowadays the only thing I can do for myself is to have my phone set to make an emergency call. It is specified how many times you have to press the button on it to ask for help and it notifies one more person, in this case, my husband. Whether it would work, when needed, who knows? That is for sure, that the police are not so flexible, moreover slow, because one will receive the call, then switch to the local police and everywhere, and by the time all goes through, anything can happen. It would be simpler that help comes immediately when we call the emergency number, such as it happens abroad.

(Our photos are illustrations, they do not represent the speakers.)