The education one gets from families is an important factor in all societies. Family is the starting point of education and it determines the lifeline of every person. Each thing you do is like putting bricks in the building. If you show them how much you care and show love without discrimination, you can convince them that they can do anything and be successful with their talents and education. Every difficulty may bring a key to success. For sure, there would be hardships in the course of your life. If you are visually impaired, you should convince people of your abilities. It is necessary to be aware of what can be done with individual efforts.
Every morning when going out with Kara, starting from our elevator, people who pass us say “Good morning!” If they know Kara, they say “Karaaa!” It’s well-known to everyone that I like talking with whoever I come across on the street. The number of times I stopped talking has doubled since Kara came into my life. When I was eight, I asked my grandfather, what a judge was, “Why do they call you a judge?” “What does judge mean?” He said that I would be a lawyer by asking these kinds of questions. Actually, at that moment, he defined the course of my life.
I was almost 10 years old when a sudden vision loss and the crossing of my eyes started. I was studying at a state-run primary school in Afyon. My parents spoke to my teacher and I was able to continue my education in the classroom where I would be most comfortable. They didn’t treat me as if I were disabled. There were always things I had to do and I wouldn’t give up on them.
In high school, I always sat on my teachers’ desks because I could not see the board. Feeling like the leader of the class was the most important part to me. When I was in my last year of high school, my dad told me, “If you wish, we can open a boutique after your high school graduation or if you are determined, you will go till the end and be a lawyer. I got prepared for the exam. My first choice was Istanbul University. It was my greatest dream to enter through their gates. I achieved this dream, but there was a lot to do from then on. My parents gave me the greatest support in my career planning. They taught me that there was no obstacle that could not be overcome without education and to never give up.
Turkey has been a party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities since 2008. While most of the European countries have benefited from this, specific legislation has been enacted to ensure accessibility for guide dogs. As a lawyer, on behalf of the Guide Dogs Association, I also made a parliamentary arrangement with Veli Ağbaba, a deputy for Malatya, which is waiting at the commission now.
After Kara’s training with Ece and Alan, we were left alone with Kara. I also would like to mention our flight with the Turkish Airlines from Ankara
to Istanbul with Mrs. Maggie Moore, wife of the British Ambassador to Turkey, who is also visually impaired. Security officers did not understand that Kara is a guide dog and did not allow Kara to enter the airport. We explained the situation and then they allowed us to pass through. Mrs. Moore taught me how to hold Kara’s collar. A woman police officer was afraid during the security check and asked, “Will it bite me if I do a security check on you?” After I told her not to bite, she tried to suppress Kara’s fear by saying, “Don’t worry I’m not doing anything” as she turned to her during the check. How are we going to sit down? How is Kara going to lie down under my seat? These were always questions on my mind. When we got on the plane, Kara, incredibly curled up under the front seat, started to sleep. On the plane I felt grateful for my good fortune and I was glad to have Kara. The hostesses took good care of us. We had a terrific hour-long flight. The airport officers and flight crew were constantly on our side, ready to help if we needed them.
Recently, there have been projects and initiatives regarding people with disabilities in Turkey. In the past, it was not easy to access books and follow news on a daily basis. Now, the world is filled with smart devices at your fingertips. When you turn on the audible systems, you can use e-mail, Facebook, Instagram, and books that could be read in the English or Turkish languages. The screen reader is your 24/7 assistant. Your virtual assistant is with you every single moment. Chatting with Siri or reading an article is as important to us as everyone else.
Kara means friend in Irish and sweetheart in Italian. Kara is an indispensable friend and a pair of eyes for me.