This week we wanted to discuss misconceptions about wheelchair users and the wheelchair itself. Not everyone understands what it is like to use a wheelchair and they might believe some myths, have some questions, or some preconceived notions.
Today we are going to talk about six of the standard misconceptions about wheelchair users and the wheelchair itself we have encountered.
These first three misconceptions about wheelchair users are about the individual.
First – People that use wheelchairs always need help
Many people with mobility concerns are independent and are not in need of help. Feel free to ask if you can provide assistance, but never assume.
Second – The life of someone in a wheelchair is completely different than those that are not
People with disabilities are the same as everyone else. They have emotions, responsibilities, and families that love them.
Third – People assume someone else speaks for you
Just because someone is in a wheelchair does not mean that they cannot speak for themselves. Before you assume anything, ask the individual what they would like. If someone is non-verbal they can still have ways to communicate their wants and needs. People appreciate being talked to directly instead of being talked at or about. When someone communicates differently than you, be patient.
Four – Everyone who uses a wheelchair is chronically ill or sickly
People use wheelchairs for a variety of reasons, that may or may not have anything to do with a long-term illness. Never assume to know someone else’s medical history.
Five – It’s okay to put your hands on someone’s wheelchair or mobility device without their permission
Users can view their wheelchair or mobility device as an extension of themselves. It is uncomfortable to touch people without their consent. If you wouldn’t touch that person otherwise, don’t touch their wheelchair or mobility device.
Six – Wheelchair users are “confined” or “wheelchair-bound” and cannot walk.
A wheelchair is simply a device that enables someone to get around, like a bicycle or a car. Someone may have a disease, injury, chronic pain, or illness that makes the use of a wheelchair more appropriate for their level of mobility.
The bottom line is to treat others with kindness
People with disabilities and mobility considerations are just like anyone else and deserve respect. When in doubt, refer to the golden rule and ask yourself if you would be okay answering the type of question you are asking.
As always, Explore Confidently friends!
P.S. Look for Debunking Misconceptions Part II coming soon.