Background: I am totally blind. I am using a screen reading software to use the computer. I am a programmer.
Whenever I meet new people (especially in the IT industry), the following happens in many cases:
Person: "What is your work?"
Me: "I am a software developer in company x."
Person: "And you can't see at all? Oh wow! You must be so smart! I tried programming and I gave up. And my eyes are fully working!"
My question is in 3 parts:
- How to interpret their response? I do not understand why they would willingly say something bad about their abilities in front of me just because of my disability. Can anyone explain the message they are trying to communicate? My initial guess is they are lying about their actual skills and they are patronizing me, though I can't be sure.
- How to respond? Right now I stay silent because I don't know what to say, but sometimes the silence gets extended, as if they are waiting for a response. I'd preferably want to convey to them that my disability has nothing to do with my programming skills.
- There are a few cases where conversations like this happens while my teammates are present (personally or virtually), and I feel extremely humiliated. I felt singled out, and it is as if the skills of my teammates (who are developers as well) are being belittled because of me. How to get out of this situation?