Here are some things to consider around a wheelchair using person
People who use wheelchair are not bound by it, instead they feel independent and free to move around. However, they are affected by the behavior of people around them. There are certain behaviors that can create annoyance for wheelchair users.
A recent post on Facebook by the Adventures Beyond Barriers Foundation (ABBF)highlighted some behaviors and mannerisms that are disliked by people using wheelchairs.
We have taken up the points and added some more info to them to help people understand how to behave with people who use wheelchair users or mobility devices.
To create awareness about people who use wheelchairs and to ensure their dignity we are talking about some basic rules or tips that can be followed by non-wheelchair users.
- The first thing is not to misuse a parking spot or place that has been provided for wheelchair users or people with physical disabilities. Parking spots or seats in public transports are reserved for disabled people to ensure their comfort and dignity. Other people need to understand this and make due consideration.
- The same goes for using other facilities such as an accessible public toilets. When an able bodied person uses a stall designed for physically disabled person, it means the disabled person has to wait as he or she cannot use any of the other stalls.
- While standing near a wheelchair user, never ignore their presence and talk over their heads to other people. It is preferable to talk in a manner that includes them as well.
- A wheelchair user is an independent person. Most times they do not need help in moving around. If they are not asking for help and have said no thanks, you should not insist on helping. That is just plain condescending behavior.
- People with disabilities or wheelchair users do not wish to be treated with exception. Do not pay extra attention to them for going about their daily lives or tasks. You do not have to congratulate or cheer for them when they are doing their basic chores themselves.
- For some people showing sympathy is like a habit and that can become annoying for wheelchair user. Avoid asking a wheelchair users about "what happened to them?". This question is a breach of privacy, particularly if strangers are asking it.
- Some inconsiderate people can even go as far as asking a wheelchair user to perform stunts on their mobility devices. Do not ask a wheelchair user to do a wheelie for you, it might sound cool to you but it is not.
- Some people avoid inviting a disabled person or wheelchair user to gatherings or events for fear of causing them frustration. In fact not inviting them is even more hurtful and frustrating. Do invite them to meet ups and make sure that the venue is accessible.
- Don't patronize a wheelchair using person by patting them on the head just because they are in a seated position near you.
- A person using wheelchair does not need you to talk slowly with them. They can understand a normal conversation in most cases. If they need you to slow down or repeat, they will definitely let you know.
- Some people want to be playful and mean, they stop a wheelchair user from moving by holding on to the back of their mobility devices. It is rude behavior and may seem like fun to you but is not amusing for them.
- Talking about the mobility device such as asking questions about the maximum or highest speed of the wheelchair is offending and annoying.
People should not be shy to talk to us and should be friendly and normal. We should not be judged as disabled or different just because we are on wheelchairs. - Bhavna Sharma, Wheelchair User
Most of the points we have mentioned are about basic behavior. Many of us may have been doing these things unknowingly, If so, then please stop doing them. You do not have to show pity and unnecessary concern towards them. All they seek is to be treated equally and not be ignored.
Communicate with a wheelchair user the same way you would do with others, with respect and dignity.
"People should be considerate to wheelchair users and not hesitate to offer help if they find someone struggling and in need of assistance. People should avoid parking their cars in slots which are reserved for the differently abled." These are the thoughts shared by 38-year-old Joginder Singh, who lives in Hyderabad. He started using a wheelchair after an accident.
For Nisha, the stares are an irritant. This student of biotechnology says people should not stare at wheelchair users as this makes them feel strange.