‘You’re taking the p***’: Teenager abused for removing face mask so deaf sister could read her lips

Train passenger angrily denounces women despite presence of guide dog

Tom Embury-Dennis
Saturday 25 July 2020 18:58 BST
Deafblind woman and sister verbally abused for removing face covering on train

A teenager was subjected to a torrent of abuse by a train passenger after she lifted her face mask in order that her partially deaf and blind sister could read her lips.

Saule Pakenaite, 16, was travelling home to Southport with her 24-year-old sister Karolina, who has Usher syndrome, when they were confronted by another female passenger.

In mobile video footage of the incident, which was released by disability charity Sense, the passenger can be heard casting doubt on Karolina’s disability, which causes hearing loss and an eye disorder leading to night blindness and a loss of peripheral vision.

“You’re taking the p*** you,” the passenger says after Saule tells her to teach herself about Usher’s syndrome and Karolina draws attention to her guide dog.

After again berating Saule for the what the passenger describes as repeatedly lifting her mask, Karolina says: ”I’m hard of hearing, if you want to be specific, and I’m visually impaired if you want to be more specific.”

“She told me you are deafblind,” the passenger responds, before Saule hits back, “Yes, legally she is deafblind. There’s a spectrum, OK? Google it!”

“Deafblind my a***,” the woman later says, prompting Saule to tearfully ask, “Do you know what she goes through?”.

The woman continues to berate the sisters before another passenger intervenes and the video clip ends.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, all passengers are required by law to wear a face covering while on public transport, but disabled people who cannot wear one safely are exempt.

Those who provide support for disabled people who may require lip reading to communicate are also exempt when doing so.

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