Photo by Chris Card Fuller ©2007 Graffiti in Montmartre
You’ve probably seen his braille tags on the net if you haven’t seen them on location at the Palais du Chaillot. ‘The Blind, Did you see (him)? (l’aveugle, t’as vu?) is a 24 year old Capricorn. The music on his site is pretty good too. If you want to decipher his braille graffiti or ‘tags’ as they’re called in France, he’s thoughtful enough to provide you with a method for learning the braille code – right on his site. i.e. something to reflect upon, every day, blind people have to decipher a city created for seeing people. (There are a few crosswalks that have audio prompts for street-crossing – but not very many in Paris).
I haven’t talked much about Paris as being accessible for the handicapped. Certain monuments and museums are wheelchair accessible i.e. The Eiffel Tower, but the city as a whole is not handicap friendly – the Metro being a prime example.
Some Parisians donate much of their time to giving assistance to the blind through associations for the blind such as APAM. These are Paris’s angels, however there is also another side to Paris when it comes to sight-challenged in this city of perfectionism. And it’s not pretty.
We were sitting in a cafe that had one of those menus that juts out from the wall with no warning. We saw a blind person walk smack into it – and then one of the waiters in the cafe burst out laughing. Well, there you have it – the less compassionate side of Paris.
People do not talk about such things as mental retardation or physical handicaps unless you are a close friend or family member. Deformities are hidden – the disabled stay indoors – except to go to Lourdes. (At least this is the impression – maybe someone will correct this impression as being untrue – I hope!!)
Some people have tried over the past few years to change this attitude but it’s slow slogging in a nation that strives for perfection – both physical and mental perfection. Meanwhile, those that have patiently and faithfully done their part to make the path more illuminated for the blind are continuing – modestly and quietly.
What’s really great about the blind taggeur is that he might remind those that think of blindness as a ‘handicap’ that it can also be a unique, showstopping perspective. I am the way I am and that’s can be very cool.
Aside from the blind taggeur’s site (which is all in French), if you are interested in more tag art in Paris, you might want to check out the site:
Here is more contact information about the Association for the Blind and ‘Malvoyante’ in Paris (APAM)
3 rue Jacquier
Téléphone information information +33 (0)1 10 44 88 00
Fax information information +33 (0)1 40 44 67 75