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Here are four things you must never tell a wheelchair user

We all have a friend or relative who uses a wheelchair. Some of us would have an acquaintance on a wheelchair with whom we interact only once in a while. While some people tend to give away the weirdest of advices, some others have baseless tips to wheelchair users!

If you have a friend or relative on a wheelchair, you need to be more sensitive in the statements and terms that you use while interacting with them. Most importantly, realise that they live their lives just like everyone else. They do not need advices on how to do their own things!

Anjurani Joy is a wheelchair user who is an entrepreneur. She has grabbed two world records in jar lifting as well.

I have heard people telling me that I'am disabled because I'am God's favourite child. That is one of the weirdest statements I have ever heard! Honestly, being a wheelchair user is not very exciting. It has its cons. I wonder which God would like their favourite person to be on a wheelchair. Some people ask me how I carry on with my day to day activities including taking a shower or doing my work. These are things that every person around us does. What makes them think I'am any different?- Anjurani Joy.

Here are a few things that you must not tell a wheelchair user while interacting with them.

  • How did you end up in a wheelchair?- Humans are curious. It is quite common. But at the same time, you also need to be sensitive while talking to fellow human-beings. Many people tend to ask a wheelchair user on how they started using one. It is like asking them to relieve their past. Maybe they had an illness or an accident that led them to use a wheelchair. Most of them do not want to recollect their past. The best thing is to avoid such questions.
  • Why are you alone?- This is one of the most common questions that a person on wheelchair hears. Wheelchair users are independent and do not need the help of a second person. Their wheelchairs are a part of them, and they do things easily with help of their wheelchairs. So basically, they do not need any support!
  • Come, visit my religious place and be cured- Many wheelchair users undergo therapy sessions, treatments and medical help in order to remain fit and healthy. They do not need prayers or religious sessions because they are happy living their lives. At the same time, they are proud of their identities.
  • You are truly inspiring!- Yes, every human being is inspiring and exceptional in their own ways. A wheelchair user who lives their life independently is not any different. They are not heroes who have achieved something exceptional. Stop treating a wheelchair user as one!

Jomi John Joseph is a wheelchair user and a disability rights activist from Kerala.

"I feel if your family is supportive and positive about your disability that is all that matters. We live in a country where there is no basic infrastructure for accessibility. So how can you expect people around you to become sensitive towards the statements that they make to disabled people? I understand that most people on wheelchairs are OK with it. Most of them really do not care at such insensitive statements", says Jomi.

So next time you interact with a wheelchair user, make sure you keep these tips in mind to create a better bond with the person.

ALSO READ: Check out these lesser known facts about hearing

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