Out and Around: The Presumption of Literacy

My sister can’t read.

Her disability usually isn’t obvious when you meet her. And when she’s home visiting my parents, she spends a fair amount of time out in the city on her own. She takes the bus, she shops, she goes to restaurants. She gets her nails done.

My dad gives her her walking-around money as five-dollar bills to limit how much she can lose if someone decides to cheat her when giving change.

But like I say, mostly her disability is invisible. And when folks do notice, they’re usually cool about it.

(I remember once, years ago, I was out with L and we got into some sort of awkward situation. I wanted to explain to the woman we were inconveniencing, and so I said “she’s…” And then I wasn’t sure how to finish the sentence. The woman said “a little slow.” It wasn’t a phrase I’d ever…

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