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How To Treat People Who Use Mobility Aids

Posted by Connie on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011 at 10:38 pm and is filed under DisABILITY Advocate.
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I use a scooter when I have to walk long distances. When I do I feel as if I’m a different person because of how people react to me.

People who use mobility aids such as a wheelchair, power chair or scooter are people just like you. It’s difficult enough to admit the need for these types of medical devices but to go into public to feel ignored, unsafe or unworthy makes some people who have health issues stay home unwilling to face the world, or too angry and stressed out.

Family Disney World 8/06

Image by ConnieFoggles via Flickr

To make our lives easier, there are many things you can do.  I’ll provide you with suggestions on how to treat people who need an assistive device to be mobile. Please use these ideas and educate others, especially children.

Acknowledge Us

It really is hurtful when your mind works just fine, yet people don’t look at you or talk to you when you’re in a wheelchair. If you feel embarrassed and don’t know what to say, at least smile and say hello. If we answer then you know the door is open for conversation. You can also just begin to talk to us. If there is a problem with our speech, most people will have another way to communicate. Just do your best. If there is a speech issue, you’re not the first person to let us know that. A smile or a kind gesture can mean the world to us.

Be Cautious

Darting in front of a power chair makes us have to stop suddenly. This is not only a difficult maneuver, it can be dangerous for both of us and painful. Most power chairs and scooters are not made to stop on a dime. We have the issue of possibly falling over. Many of us are in pain any way. Making a sudden stop jars our bodies and can make us feel worse.

Watch Out In Crowds

Please be mindful of us especially in crowds. Teach your children this. Many assistive devices have horns but by the time we see you it can be too late to beep. We also don’t like to scare children with the loud noise of a horn. Please be watchful and look before you leap!

Many of us don’t mind questions especially from children. A child’s curiosity is normal. We have probably been asked the same questions many times and know some funny yet educational answers. We can be our best ambassadors if given the chance. This type of interaction can really open doors.

Handicapped Restrooms are for People with Disabilities

Public restrooms are a real difficulty for some of us. The handicapped stalls are for our use because we can’t get our assistive devices into the regular size stalls. Some of us need the bars to transfer from our scooter to the toilet. Please don’t use this stall because you need room for your children or because it’s open. These are designated stalls and even some of them are too small and difficult to use. (But that’s another story.)

Handicapped Parking is for Disabled People

Disabled parking is a very big topic for us. It doesn’t matter if you’ll only be 10 minutes and use up a space or if you have a placard from your sister-in-law’s aunt’s cousin, if you’re not disabled don’t use the handicapped parking spots. I refrain from saying “please” here because this has become an epidemic of sorts. Think of the person who needs to use this spot and then find another place to park.

If someone doesn’t look disabled and used a handicapped spot, don’t say confront us. Many of us have invisible illnesses, such as Lupus, Arthritis, Cardiac conditions, etc. You have no idea how we feel by looking at us.

Our Part in This

Yes we have a part to play in this too. We shouldn’t zip through crowds as if we’re on a race, or get rude with people who didn’t see us or just didn’t know. How can we expect kindness if we show disrespect?

Most of us are happy to answer questions. There are even some schools that have a disabled person visit and talk with the students to enable the children to learn about disabilities. Talk to us not only about why or how we’re disabled. Learn about us. We have jobs, families, interests and we can be great friends.

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12 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing Connie.
    This is something everyone should read.
    Annie Y recently posted..Open Letter 12My Profile

    comment by Annie Y — March 3, 2011 @ 1:47 pm
  2. I agree, most of us don’t know how to act when we come in contact with someone using a mobility aid. However, I know how hard it can be when someone is mentally fine, but has physical health issues as this is my dad. I’m glad someone is talking about these issues. : )
    Lindsay @ Laughing Lindsay recently posted..St Patrick’s Day Scentsy GiveawayMy Profile

    comment by Lindsay @ Laughing Lindsay — March 8, 2011 @ 2:46 am
  3. Your last sentence says it all.
    Andrea @ The Greenbacks Gal recently posted..King Soopers March-April Optimum Wellness Magazine- FREE VoskosMy Profile

    comment by Andrea @ The Greenbacks Gal — March 8, 2011 @ 8:41 am
  4. I’ll admit – I’m guilty of taking my 2 kids into the stall with me in the bathroom. However, I do make sure that nobody else needs to use the stall before I do (not that that makes it okay).
    Lisa recently posted..Mars Needs Moms Giveaway!My Profile

    comment by Lisa — March 8, 2011 @ 11:30 am
  5. I am not disabled, but I get SOOOO frustrated by people parking in the handicap parking slots that don’t have their sticker. I wish more cops would patrol the Walmart parking lot giving out tickets! :-)
    Kelli @ 3 Boys and a Dog recently posted..Kellogg’s Share Your BreakfastMy Profile

    comment by Kelli @ 3 Boys and a Dog — March 8, 2011 @ 6:25 pm
  6. My aunt has diabetes and she gets looks all the time when she parks in the handicap parking. She may look “normal” but she has a lot of trouble walking and she does have the tags to park there. I too have seen many non handicap tagged vehicles in the handicap spots at our Walmart but I’ve also seen male only vehicles take a pregnancy/new mom parking spot when I was 8 months pregnant.
    Shanaka @ Mama Bee Does recently posted..Bath &38 Body Works- Free Tote &38 Full Size Body LotionMy Profile

    comment by Shanaka @ Mama Bee Does — March 15, 2011 @ 1:19 pm
  7. Many people are reluctant to use a mobility aid as they feel it is confirmation of their advancing age, something they would rather deny. Concerned friends and family should do their best to encourage the use of an appropriate aid before a fall leads to serious injury.

    comment by Health Compare — March 27, 2011 @ 4:13 am
  8. I love this post. I’ve worked with many people who use mobility aids and it’s sad, but remarkable how differently they’re perceived because of it.

    This is a real eye-opener and I hope it helps others to understand and be more open-minded and courteous.

    comment by Jessi — March 28, 2011 @ 2:15 am
  9. FOr sure an eye opener. Thanks for sharing.

    comment by Crystal & Co — April 2, 2011 @ 1:10 am
  10. Really nice post!! My uncle is also facing same problem..so i am aware of that. I think we have to give respect & help to these people to keep them self confident. There are lot of medical supplies and equipments available in market which make them independent.

    comment by Mobility Care — April 14, 2011 @ 3:20 am
  11. Wow Impressive! Your blog is very informative. However, it is pretty hard task but your post and experience serve and teach me how to handle and make it more simple and manageable. Thanks for the tips& hellip; Best regards.

    comment by Mobility Aids — June 12, 2012 @ 3:38 pm
  12. Hello there! Quick question that’s totally off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My blog looks weird when viewing from my apple iphone. I’m trying to find a theme or
    plugin that might be able to correct this problem.
    If you have any suggestions, please share. Thank you!
    ohlardy.com recently posted..ohlardy.comMy Profile

    comment by ohlardy.com — May 24, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

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