If you see me in my wheelchair
I know there are many people who are great with wheelchair users; but this isn’t meant for them.
If I’m out in my wheelchair and you see me – please don’t talk to the person pushing me and act as if I don’t exist. I have a mind and a perfectly functioning brain and I can answer your questions just as well as the person behind me. Who knows if the question is about me, I may even be the best person to answer.
You can make eye contact – I’m not scary, really.
If you’re standing behind me in a queue or at a concert, please don’t rest on my chair as if it’s some form of public leaning post. I wouldn’t come up to you, a perfect stranger, and lean on your shoulder, so please don’t do it to me.
If your kids think it’s fun to kick my wheels – stop them. If I came up and kicked your car you’d freak, if I kicked the pram with your child in it you’d probably call the police.
If the person pushing me bumps into you or runs over your foot, cut us some slack they’re not the easiest of things to manoeuvre and yes if you do stop suddenly in the middle of the street or shopping aisle then you probably will end up with a bruise; but that’s really not our intention. I know I’m lower to the ground; but I’m not invisible.
If I get out of my chair to sit in a normal seat, please don’t look as if a miracle has just happened, or that I must be faking if my legs do work. There are many reasons for being in a wheelchair.
If I’m on a disabled platform at a concert – don’t glare at me for taking up space and blocking your view – I’m supposed to be here – you’re not.
If you don’t have a disability, don’t park in the disabled spots – it may seem unfair that we get the best spaces; but come on there has to be some benefits to being ill, old or disabled. What’s just a few steps for you can seem like a marathon to us.
Finally if you see me struggling to get through a door, do be kind enough to hold it open. It’s not patronising and while I like to feel independent, there are only so many things I can manage with just two hands.
Pride and dignity can go out the window when you’re ill or disabled; but there are things you can do to make it a little easier.
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