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DVP Interview: Maia Scott and Ron Jones

Ron Jones interviewed Maia Scott at StoryCorps for the Disability Visibility Project™ at StoryCorps in San Francisco on August 14, 2014. Here is one audio clip with text transcripts from their conversation about being disabled artists, what they value about theater performance, and how art can challenge an audience to think beyond binaries.

Text Transcript:

Ron Jones: My name is Ron Jones. I’m 74 years of age. The date is August 14, 2014. San Francisco Public Library and I’ve known Maia for how many years, Maia?

Maia Scott: I don’t know.

Ron Jones: A while.

Maia Scott: My name is Maia Scott. I am 43 years old. It is August 14, 2014. We are here at the San Francisco Public Library. I have known Ron for a really long time. We are here as part of the disability, visibility project. I couldn’t resist being blind. A visible disabled person.

Ron Jones: Great artist, I might add.

Maia Scott: There’s so much serendipity that happens in life. I was just recently talking with a client of mine who was feeling greatly at how he got to be where he is working as a mathematician. It got me thinking how many amazing things came together to allow me to be an autonomous blind woman, artist, massage therapist in the Bay area. The ADA was part of that as well as amazing people.

Ron Jones: ADA.

Maia Scott: Like Ron.

Ron Jones: Yeah, how long have we known each other? Where did we meet?

Maia Scott: I don’t know how long … I think time is such a stretchy, weird, noodly thing that I … We did meet though at the Recreation Center for the Handicapped, aka RCH, aka the Janet Palmer Center

Ron Jones: Yeah, Janet Palmeroy center. We did meet there. We were doing theater unlimited.

Maia Scott: That we were. I actually started there as a recreation therapy intern. I migrated up from southern California because of theater unlimited.

Ron Jones: Theater unlimited. Explain what that consisted of.

Maia Scott: It depends on who you talk to. For many of the clients at the Recreation Center for theHandicapped.

Ron Jones: It’s Joe Azaro.

Maia Scott: It was a place to have a voice. To tell stories to be real and to be alive and to be integrated in the community and to be whole.

Ron Jones: We once started a play about suicide. We were talking about Robin Williams recently and we got two years into that. We could do plays that would last a year in preparation…two years in preparation. We decided we just could not do it. The depression was so great.

Maia Scott: Probably could do a play that lasted for a year.

Ron Jones: We did a few of those, like Say Ray, probably lasted…could have gone on forever and ever. True story about a man who was mentally disabled and kidnapped, taken to Mexico and robbed of his possessions. Left there with basically a bathing suit and a baseball cap. The story is how he survived. He ended up working in a theater cleaning up the theater by eating the remnants on the floor. Then he fell in love with a woman in Urapon Mexico and also got a job, eventually, working in a coffin shop. This coffin maker down in Urapon, would have these coffins. He would tie these lids to strings and the coffin lids would lift up. He found out that Ray Fernandez could sing like Elvis Presley. Ray gets in the coffin and every night pops up singing Elvis Presley. Eventually he got back to San Francisco which is another long story and is now living here in the city, free.

Maia Scott: It was really fun during my tenure at the center, I worked a lot with his loved one, his significant other, Cassandra.

Ron Jones: Sandra. Sandy Fernandez, yes.

Maia Scott: It was so amazing. I didn’t know about Say Ray, your story until a while after. She was a beautiful, humble person just living in the moment with the rest of us there, doing theater and art and living and being in the community.

Ron Jones: When Ray came back to San Francisco, he went in front of the courts and the courts declared that he was capable and competent of living his own life. He received his own SSI checks and direct his own future. They had a child together you realize.

Maia Scott: Ah.

Ron Jones: Ah, yes. Life goes on.

Maia Scott: Life goes on.

Ron Jones: We did Say Ray as a play with Michael Rice at The Marsh on Valencia Street. It was so wonderful to work onstage with Michael because being disabled Michael didn’t understand words or how to memorize words, but he knew the whole play. Throughout the play I’d keep looking at him for direction. However, he was also very spontaneous. In the middle of the play he might decide he has to go to the bathroom. He sometimes say, “Ron, I have to go to the bathroom, now.” He would truck off to the bathroom at The Marsh. Everyone could hear cckkkshhh. “Wash your hands, Michael” He’d come back on stage and we would simply start up again. He had that freedom which I love.

Maia Scott: Since you’re going to bring up going to the bathroom, I think one of my favorite spontaneous moments in witnessing Say Ray was when your evil, yucky character turned around and said, ” Got to take myself a whizzy-wingy.” The washer upstairs proceeded to flood and the water came pouring down from the heavens down on the stage.

Ron Jones: I remember that moment. We’re facing this black back of the stage, pretending to piss and all of a sudden, you’re right, the washing machine upstairs broke. First of all it was just trickling. I thought, “Oh my God, it’s raining at The Marsh Theater.” Then Michael and I realized. We simply turned to the audience and said, “I think we’re going to stop this show until we figure out where the water is coming from.” We stopped the show and we asked the audience, “Do you want to wait?” The audience waited for over an hour.

Maia Scott: Yes.

Ron Jones: Yeah.

Maia Scott: There again, comes back to serendipity and, dare I say, potent timing.

Ron Jones: Maybe life is improv and we just don’t realize it.

Maia Scott: Isn’t it though?

Ron Jones: Yeah. You and I haven’t been onstage a lot, Maia. Maybe talk about our stage experiences, which are quite amazing. Quite different.

Maia Scott: Very, very different. I’d love to explore that.

Ron Jones: For instance, you’re blockhead thing is the most inspirational theatric performance art I’ve ever witnessed.

Maia Scott: Are you calling me a blockhead?

Ron Jones: No, explain what blockhead is.

Maia Scott: Blockhead is basically a cube that sits on my head. That has Velcro on it and I can put strange objects on it like batteries and book lights and toilet paper rolls and big springs and anything and create faces. Then the body, of course, becomes the character that goes with each face.

The fun part about the cube is that there are four sides to play with. I love that piece. It’s also very bittersweet. It still lives. It has had a second incarnation now. It came out of a deep dark place as an artist. As a visually impaired artist who loves vision and color and movement. It’s often approached after a performance, “Wow, you’re blind. You’re visually impaired and you can do that. You have so much sense of color. Wow, that’s amazing. I’m going to put you on a pedestal that’s so high, you’re going to get a nose bleed.” Then there’s the overweight part and people come up and say, “Whoa, people like you shouldn’t be able to do that.” I find that when I do pieces like blockhead, funny things, or character things, it becomes less about blindness or disability, but more about ability and unity and community and togetherness.

Ron Jones: Yeah, we did that at St. Aden’s. It was so cool.

Maia Scott: Yeah, that and the tap light boobs.

Ron Jones: Oh, we should talk about that. We did a dot-ta festival here in San Francisco. A lot of nudity and you were in a brazier that had lights on and blinked occasionally. Whenever we got into… (singing)My technicians we are metal magicians. We are the ones that make you smile. We give you four magic, chemical gladness, sexual, sexual repression. Call it regression. We are the ones that keep your fire … You remember that piece.

Maia Scott: Of course.

Ron Jones: You were going blink, blink, blink.

Maia Scott: I never got to play with my boobies more than that night. I’ll tell you and everyone had to watch.

Ron Jones: Yeah it was cool. We did Slims here in San Francisco. Slims is the famous music club here in the city.

Maia Scott: It’s really amazing this San Francisco arts culture that we have. It’s so inclusive. This whole genre of disability art culture feels so rooted here in the Bay area. I’m sure it’s other places as well. It’s part of what drew me up here to work with theater unlimited and to allow myself to emerge and blossom as an artist.

Ron Jones: I got a problem, though with this performing with you Maia.

Maia Scott: What?

Ron Jones: Whenever I’m with you, I’m also with Fiddler, whoever happens to be with you. You’re guide dog of the moment.

Maia Scott: Guide dog de jour.

Ron Jones: De jour. I must confess, whenever we’re on stage together, I’m doing beep boxing or jumping up and down with poetry, we’ve got some saxophone players tooting away on the side. Then we’ve got you dancing wildly, dervishly-like. But then we’ve got Fiddler, or whoever it might be at the moment, jumping up … Fiddler always, always, always steals the show.

Maia Scott: As did Selma and Tessa. You know I wish life was that easy. If I could just sit there and look cute and have everyone love me, wow.

Ron Jones: Yeah, they don’t like me either. They just like Fiddler.

Maia Scott: We did these amazing young audiences of the Bay area shows with Judy Cohen who created the idea that every body can dance. We had people spinning around in wheelchairs and people with Down syndrome doing back flips and people doing all the amazing, crazy, fabulous dances with masks and scarves and in body bags. We’d get up there and answer any questions that kids might have about disability and arts and being a disabled artist. Some kid would go, “Um, Excuse me, how old’s the dog?”

Ron Jones: How old’s the dog? I want to pet the dog. I want to hold the dog. Every time we went to a school to do theater…

Maia Scott: Why’s that thing on your dog’s back?

Ron Jones: I just want to be with the dog, let’s face it. The dogs win every time.

Maia Scott: I did pod I do with my dog. I ended up later on, hiding the dog behind the curtain so that we could actually talk about the people.

Ron Jones: I remember being on the stage with you at Somarts. You and I decided before we went on stage before the audience that we would simply react to whatever the dog was doing. If the dog jumped up and down, we’d jump up and down. If the dog cowered, we would cower. The whole piece was based on the dog, but the audience didn’t know it.

Maia Scott: Yeah. Oh, remember when we did First Night Monte Ray. Remember being up on this really tall stage. This was when we had Selma. It’s New Year’s Eve and there are heaps of people down below. I was doing the pot e deux. I was wearing this black velvet top that had these big sleeves. It was nice and fuzzy and black and shiny, kind of like my dog.

Ron Jones: Thousands of people. Thousands of people in awe.

Maia Scott: I’m bending down to do this big sweep to embrace my dog, and this block headed little black Labrador plunges her face into my cleavage. I’m sitting there going, “Ah.” Someone out in the audience goes, “Ow, doggie!”

Ron Jones: They do it every time.

Maia Scott: The beautiful thing is, that moment was not about blind woman with guide dog, but “Oh my God, it’s cleavage.” Something that we all deal with and see in a dress. I just love those universal themes that accidentally occur in our lovely Bay arts community.

Ron Jones: Once we took one of our theater unlimited shows up to Salt Lake City, Mormon town. We were on stage and we had a guy named Bruce Campbell. Remember Bruce Campbell at all?

Maia Scott: I wasn’t there for that one. This is pre me.

Ron Jones: Bruce Campbell starts taking the microphone and starts swallowing it like it’s some kind of penis. He’s got this microphone going in and out of his mouth as we’re trying to sing songs. The entire assembly, and this is a huge assembly, this is thousands of people with dignitaries, governors. Jane Fonda’s in the audience. That shows you the caliber of audience. But the managers of this place came up on stage and said, “We have to stop this show immediately, because we can’t have this erotic art going on.” Well, we’re from San Francisco. Doesn’t matter. They turn off the lights. They turn off the microphones. Our cast is literally throwing up. They don’t understand. Why are you taking away our chance to perform in front of audiences. The entire audience turned their back and were asked to leave the theater, which they did. Only one person stayed. Who do you think stayed?

Maia Scott: Jane Fonda.

Ron Jones: She came on stage and she said, “I’ve been on stage all my life and I know what it feels like to have someone leave you and not be there for you, not support you in your art.” Bruce, swallowing his microphone, was very excited. He began to ask, “Who are you?” She explained, “I’m Jane Fonda. I was in Golden Pond.” He had no clue who she was. But he said to her, “You’re very pretty.” I love it when some people come up and support us when seem to be silly or outrageous or simply artists.

Maia Scott: Yeah, I have to go back to that silly and outrageous. As an artist working with theater unlimited, we seem to all often go to social justice related issues.

Ron Jones: I know what you’re saying, yeah.

Maia Scott: Issues of the big, bad, able-bodied people oppressing the disabled people who overcome. But don’t we all go through that. You can have the wrong color hair at school and be oppressed for that. You could be the wrong religion. I’m saying wrong with big GC neon quotation marks on the outside because there is no wrong.

Ron Jones: Yeah, we’re always told we’re wrong. I wish we’d have someone tell us we’re right. Right for the love we have for each other. Right for the community. Right for the absurdities we might present. Right for the uniqueness we might have in our souls.

Maia Scott: Right for our spontaneity. Right for our pains and sorrows. Right for our depression, oppression and our confessions. Right for all the things we dare to try and fail at. Right for failing, for crying out loud.

Ron Jones: I have a couple of questions for you. We both grew up with the ADA, how did the ADA come to influence your life? What gave you some sense of freedom, or dignity or beauty?

Maia Scott: I have to confess here. I like to think of being empowered by the ADA, which I am, especially when it comes to my guide dogs. I’ve been very happy to have the ADA behind me. The real, what’s the word I’m looking for? The real framework, foundation, place of holding for my autonomy as a disabled person is my parents. They…

Ron Jones: I think that’s true for all of us.

Maia Scott: They were pre-ADA. I think, I don’t even know the dates. I’m not a good historian. I’m a right now person. I think there was at some point in my early life or just before a rehabilitation act that put a lot of programs and services into schools like mobility instructors and required that we are given the means to succeed. My parents, however…

Ron Jones: Succeed. Success. Success.

Maia Scott: Success, whatever that is.

Ron Jones: Well, my grandchildren for instance, both my granddaughters, young women, got involved in sports. Because of being allowed to now play in sports in college and university level. Their whole life has changed just because of that freedom, that access to the world that ADA offered the disabled community.

Maia Scott: There we go! Unity again and community.

Ron Jones: Yeah, it’s also social consciousness.

Maia Scott: Definitely true. Anyway, my parents were … There was a hippy-artist sort that painted flowers on fire hydrants and wore sarongs.

Ron Jones: Who was that?

Maia Scott: That was my mom. She was an art student.

Ron Jones: She was a business lady too, if I remember.

Maia Scott: Later on she was, yes. Then there was my father, want-to-be pilot, ex-Vietnam vet, quirky personality. Basically a lover and a fighter.

Ron Jones: Yeah, flies airplanes. Come on.

Maia Scott: Their love and fight got me to where I am. So now I’m the passionate advocate that happened because of them. They fought for me along the way to when I got into college and then the ADA came along. I remember going into college for the first time and saying, “Okay, so I’m here. I’m visually impaired. I need some services. What do you guys have for people with disabilities?”

Ron Jones: Oh, sorry, sorry, young lady, we only have. Well, we have wheel chair ramps.

Maia Scott: That’s basically it, yeah.

Ron Jones: The old days.

Maia Scott: That’s the old days. However, the ADA and those wheel chair ramps are quite a lot more influential and important than just for people with wheel chairs. I think it’s so cool that people with luggage and strollers and laundry carts and whatever has wheels … Skateboarders can zoom around the library ramps now. Anything on wheels can go.

Ron Jones: I remember the time we took theater unlimited to New York City. We had these wheel chairs that for the first time had these massive batteries. They were like mobile, little miniature cars.

Maia Scott: They cost as much as cars, my goodness.

Ron Jones: The airport was just stunned at how we get these things through security. It took us a couple of hours. One thing was transporting people down the aisles of the plane to get them to their seats. We had to carry Elizabeth on our backs for instance and wedge her into a seat. But the oddity of that trip for me was, when we got to New York City, we were divided. We lost each other…different planes because of the lateness.

Maia Scott: The walkies and mobiles.

Ron Jones: In New York City we kept finding each other. Sometimes there’s miracles in life. We would turn around a corner in Times Square and there the other group would be. Or we would meet at the World Trade Center, that was before. We always ran into each other. Then we would perform, spontaneously. You remember that, on the streets?

Maia Scott: Oh yeah. That was the beauty of it too. Again that expectation of people with disabilities.

Ron Jones: Hey, what are you guys doing? What are you guys doing our there?

Maia Scott: Hey, but on the street corners of New York City, everybody’s out there performing.

Ron Jones: You can’t be dancing on the streets on New York City. What do you mean? We had Willard Allen with us. Joe Azaro.

Maia Scott: But then you go around the corner and everyone’s doing it.

Ron Jones: Yeah, this is the time to dance in life. Don’t stay still man.

Maia Scott: How often do you get to be on Broadway?

Ron Jones: How often do you get to go dancing on the streets? Maybe that’s what you give us, Maia. Give us freedom.

Maia Scott: Freedom is quite powerful.

Ron Jones: Yeah, but talking about freedom, we were talking at lunch today about Robin Williams just passing. That is also a part of our lives and how we deal with that.

Maia Scott: Yeah, depression is quite it’s own word. I want to with the passing of Robin Williams to acknowledge depression as a physical disability because if your chemicals are off, if things are right, it doesn’t matter if you have everything, if you have the best of everything and your this beautiful, athletic person wearing all the best clothes with pockets full of shiny credit cards and have the newest phone with the “it” crowd in your phone book. Those chemicals aren’t right, if you feel sick, if things are going synergetically inside, it doesn’t matter what you have or who you are.

When I was a kid, people always asked each other. It seems like a very common question for kids. Would you rather be deaf or blind? If you had to choose one, which would you be deaf or blind?

Ron Jones: Choose one, one or the other child. Just choose, you have to choose.

Maia Scott: This is my opinion. It’s by no means the opinion, but choosing between being blind and losing the rest of my vision and having to live in the depths of a depressive state, I would take the blindness three times. Because it’s not what you have, it’s what you can do with it and what you’re empowered to do with it and what your body allows you to do with it.

Ron Jones: I know you’ve had some close touches with this. You were telling me earlier today that your mom and dad came up and said it’s just like breaking a leg or an arm, it’s something. I’m here for you. Being there for each other. That seems to be critical.

Maia Scott: Being supported. Being supported is important.

Ron Jones: I think that the theater gives us a life. It allows us to explore who we are, what we are, what we want to be, the depressions we might face, the darkness, the light. It lets us express that, come to terms with it.

Maia Scott: It’s a safe place. It’s also very vulnerable and scary place, but it’s a safe place to be vulnerable and scared.

Ron Jones: Yeah, I think that’s it exactly. The stage is that strange place, we all walk in together and we sit in this dark room and we revel in life’s experiences. Tears and laughter.

Maia Scott: It’s a place to choose either to be fully yourself and dare to let people see it or it’s a place to be someone else.

Ron Jones: I remember that this year you were at CIIS here in San Francisco and you were graduating

Maia Scott: Yeah, yeah. Good place.

Ron Jones: But you got to give the commencement. I was so honored and so please. I was sitting up high in the balcony in Norris auditorium and I’m looking down at this little, teeny person on stage. I know that she’s thrown away every sport she’s ever had to be in the middle of the stage. What’s she talking about? It’s not about blindness. It’s not about disability. It’s about art. I reveled in that and so did the audience, by the way.

Maia Scott: It’s about seeing each other through different lenses. Being an artist is about knowing how to see each other in different ways. If you look at art…

Ron Jones: I’m beep boxing along behind you. You don’t realize that do you?

Maia Scott: Yay. Yes, it’s about art and seeing. I think artists have the ability to see the world differently. We as a community choose to look or not look at it and choose to learn how to see that artist. Sometimes, I think, as a visually impaired artist I have it … Everyone says, “Oh, it must be really hard being visually impaired. It’s such a visual world.” But as an artist, I get to see things how I want and I don’t have to…

Ron Jones: Oh, that explains a lot. By the way, we’re sitting here at the public library and just recently you had a show here. I thought you were really allowing us to see differently with your show. I think it was called seesaw?

Maia Scott: Yeah. It was called seesaw. I went through my MFA program, banging my head and fighting, “Why does everything I do have to be about disability and blindness? Why does everything I do have to be about social justice and teaching the world that I can do everything like everyone else?”

Ron Jones: (singing) You’re an angel. You’re an angel.

Maia Scott: I ascend to your…

Ron Jones: I loved some of the displays you created for us to move through and act upon.

Maia Scott: It was a fun show. For me, it was about play. It was about self-discovery and how you see and sharing how you see so we can make it into performance afterwards.

Ron Jones: Tell me about those cards you made that you had on the wall.

Maia Scott: The affirmation squares. That was fun. It evolved from a text and image class. I have this great $2.95 little app on my Ipad that lets you manipulate letters and I used 100 different affirmation words, each made into a square.

Ron Jones: Give me an example.

Maia Scott: Love. Trust. Hope. Autonomy. That one got passed around a lot. Autonomy seems to be a big thing.

Ron Jones: Empowering words.

Maia Scott: Empowering words. Positive affirmations.

Ron Jones: Give me a couple more. Fun. Wasn’t there something about laughter or joking?

Maia Scott: Fun. Juicy.

Ron Jones: Juicy.

Maia Scott: Humor.

Ron Jones: Humor. You left out sex. That was probably a taboo, right?

Maia Scott: You know, I’m working on a new 100 squares. I officially have…I have sensuality in there. Sensual.

Ron Jones: That’s good.

Maia Scott: But I have to put sex in there now too. Thank you for that.

Ron Jones: Do you have romance?

Maia Scott: No, I don’t.

Ron Jones: Maybe it’s time…

Maia Scott: This is crowd sourced. You’re giving me some new ones here. This is good.

Ron Jones: You also did a performance piece based on those placards, which I really enjoyed.

Maia Scott: We did a performance piece based on people’s self-portraits that they did looking through goggles. I learned something interesting about sighted people at this point. I thought people were going to be like me and I can make art on these goggles and people could look through them and see the art and then see through the art. But, alas, I understand now that there is this ability to filter through the obstacles.

Ron Jones: I see myself, beautiful.

Maia Scott: It makes sense now. I now know about those raver glasses with the shades…the shutters. That you can look through those and not see the shutters, but I see the shutters. I see the filter. It’s a lesson for me about seeing filters. I ask people, “Can you try to see the filter? Try to see the art?” They’re like, “But then I can’t see myself and draw myself.”

That was such a fun experience. Can I go back to school? Can I be the one that gets held back?

Ron Jones: Eehh…Third period. You’re in high school now.

Maia Scott: No, please.

Ron Jones: You want to really go back.

What will you be doing in the future, looking ahead? You thinking about working at CIIS or creating a theater company of your own?

Maia Scott: I’ve been wanting to…

Ron Jones: This could be a kick start. All these people listening to this radio show send $35 to Maia Scott.

Maia Scott: Oh, come on. Let’s send $40. Here’s for 40. 40, 40, 40. Okay.

Ron Jones: We need a theater company of art.

Maia Scott: Yes, I would love to…

Ron Jones: Of vision.

Maia Scott: Of vision, yes. I don’t know what it would be yet. I love the ritual of art and performance. I love sacred space and labyrinths. I love the power to make space sacred. That we with our intent can change ourselves and our communities. The idea of healing is something is evoking change in ourselves and social justice is evoking change in our community. Sometimes one comes with the other. I’d love for theater to do that without actually doing that. I think the arts do that.

Ron Jones: Actually, you’ve done that. I’ve seen you make labyrinths. I’ve seen you work with people in labyrinths, both at the rec center or the Janet Pomeroy Center but at Laguna Honda as well. You create labyrinths and allow people to move through them in fascinating ways.

Maia Scott: You certainly create labyrinth with your stories and tales. You invite people to enter them and find center and come home again feeling a part of it. I think it’s powerful.

Ron Jones: Coming home again, maybe that’s what stories and labyrinths do. They allow us to come home again. I hadn’t thought of that, but I think that’s the foundation of this work, whether it be a labyrinth or a story it allows us to find home. What’s comfortable. Who we want to be with. How we want to navigate life.

Maia Scott: What is home? It’s amazing just thinking about people who are homeless, now wanting to be called houseless because home is such a relative thing. Some people are at home in their bodies and don’t need anything else as there are other people who need to build sanctuary and are only at home when they have that. People are only at home with their tribes. People are home with animals. People are home in doing what they love. It’s such a powerful word. There’s a lot of exploration going on right now with that.

Ron Jones: I think home does imply being part of a community, a neighborhood. Being able to know your neighbor next door or the person that works next to you at work or the person you share the community street with. That’s critical. I think places like the café or Holy City Zoo or the marsh on Valencia. These are homes in a way for all of us.

Maia Scott: Wow. Home is powerful. CIAS was home for me the last couple of years. I think in answer to your question, trying to find another type of home now having completed that degree. Craving that community. I think I’m in a place where I want to build that home myself. I want a build that sanctuary in the arts. I want to do work that doesn’t separate us. That acknowledges that we are all broken somehow. We don’t need to be fixed. I’m kind of regressing from this therapy thing. I was a recreation therapist and we learned a lot how to fix people or how to make it look like we’re fixing people. How to have the powers that be who fund us look like we’re fixing people.

Ron Jones: You and I have been doing a lot of talking about story telling, you and I doing some workshops with the CIIS or some other community, maybe the Marsh or some other communities. I think story telling allows us to share the things that matter to us. By sharing them we get to learn about each other. Our differences, our depressions, our joys, our hopes. I think story telling is a profoundly powerful instrument. It’s like sitting around a fireplace and just talking with friends.

Maia Scott: I see this world as this big web and we’re all interconnected. We’re all interconnected with each other and sometimes we’re connected with each other in ways we can’t even see. We’re connected with people we don’t even know that we know and people we don’t even know exist. I remember when my last guide dog, Tessa, passed away it was quite traumatic. She passed away very early because of cancer.

Ron Jones: I remember.

Maia Scott: My mom and I and a friend were coming back from a theater. From the glitzy, Golden Gate Theater seeing Anything Goes. Really lively happy go-lucky, old time, Broadway musical. We’re crossing 6th and Market. It’s dark. It’s 11 o’clock at night. The streetlights barely tap into the corners. I can’t even see in front of me. I have my cane and my mom’s arm. A soft voice comes out from the side next to the crosswalk. He says, “where is your dog?” I look over and it’s this gentleman in a wheel chair who I occasionally brush passed on my way to and from work as I’m hustling and bustling as I get where I need to go to do what I need to do. I double-take and I look back at him and I say, “Oh, she just passed away a couple months ago from cancer.” He puts his hand on his heart and he says, “I’m really going to miss her. I’m really going to miss her.”

I’ve never even introduced my dog to him. I never even said hi to him. We are so interconnected with each other, we have so many things in common that we don’t even realize with people we try to be blind to or pretend to ignore. This whole Robin Williams things comes up because God knows that many of us, so many of us, have heard him, heard a quote, heard of him, grew up with something that he played in, a movie, a TV show, seen his picture. He was hurting so bad that he cut all those strings all at once. Now we all hurt with him and we have that in common. Just like this man on the street was hurting with me.

Ron Jones: We’re all just passing each other on the streets. It’s time to stop and say hello.

Maia Scott: It’s time to stop and say hello.

Ron Jones: Hello.

Maia Scott: I remember in junior high, exactly where I was, coming home from school going to ballet class looking down to find the two steps that sometimes I miss because I don’t want to look blind and I won’t use a cane. This guy passes me and he says, “Hey, smile. It’s a good day.” I’ll never forget him. I’ll never forget.

Music Credit (Electric Mirrors by Reverse Commuting and Youth Pictures by Florence Henderson by To Sit Down or Follow So I Follow are licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License):

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Suggested Reference

Disability Visibility Project™. (2017, January 2). DVP Interview: Maia Scott and Ron Jones. Retrieved from:

Image Description:

A photo featuring Maia Scott, Ron Jones, and Maia’s guide dog was taken on August 14, 2014: close up portrait of a guide dog, a woman and man all sitting next to each other looking at the camera. The guide dog on the far left is a golden retriever with its nose and face pointed at the camera. The woman in the middle appears to be white and has long brown hair. The man on the right appears to be white, is bald, wearing glasses, dressed in a black shirt, and smiling at the camera.


Produced for the Disability Visibility Project™ by Yosmay del Mazo and Alice Wong with interviews recorded by StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the story of our lives. For more: and

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