There are millions of people with limited mobility, but many of us are unsure about how to interact with them.
We see, hear, and read about individuals with limited mobility all the time. However, we don’t often educate ourselves on the best way to communicate with someone who uses a wheelchair or mobility scooter. While you should talk to them just as you do everyone else, EZ-ACCESS wants you to know there are things you need to consider when interacting with someone who has limited mobility.
It is always important to respect the personal space of those around you and this includes an individual using a wheelchair or mobility scooter. Don’t push someone’s wheelchair unless they ask you to. Some people may take offense to this gesture while others may be grateful. If you are talking to someone in a wheelchair for a long period of time, take a seat or kneel down so they don’t have to crane their neck throughout the entire conversation in order to see you.
Never park in handicapped parking spaces. Parking in a space designated as accessible for those with limited mobility is not only selfish, it’s illegal. Accessible parking spaces are very valuable and forcing someone using a wheelchair to park far away from the door is rude and a major inconvenience.
It is important that you do not just see a disability when you look at an individual. Everybody has different abilities but each person is still who they are. Individuals are not defined by the challenges they may or may not face. Interact with each person based on their thoughts and feelings instead. Individuals living with limited mobility do not want to talk about it all the time. This is not the sole thing that makes them who they are and they are not looking for your pity.
All people, no matter what their abilities are, have something to contribute and deserve to be treated with respect. It is important to understand that, and try to find knowledge about things you aren’t sure about. EZ-ACCESS understands that seniors and individuals with disabilities live independent and mobile lifestyles. We work to provide these individuals and their families with the proper knowledge and equipment to live an active life.
If you’re accustomed to working with people who use wheelchairs, you probably have a good understanding of wheelchair etiquette. However, if you’re new to caring for, working with or living near a person in a wheelchair, you might not be sure how to act around them. EZ-ACCESS has experience working with a variety of disabled customers and their caregivers, and it can be frustrating for them when the people they interact with don’t have the best etiquette. Check out our list of wheelchair etiquette that can help make you a better person and caregiver and make your town more accessible to everyone who lives there. You might just find some ideas you’ve never considered before.
- Don’t automatically hold on to or lean on someone’s wheelchair. If you’re good friends, it’s fine, but otherwise it can be distracting and uncomfortable.
- Offer assistance, but don’t insist. They’ll say yes if they need help.
- Always talk to the person in the wheelchair instead of a caregiver unless they are unable to talk.
- If you can, sit down to share the same eye level when you’re talking.
- Practice referring to people in a wheelchair as just that – “in a wheelchair”.
- Don’t pity people in wheelchairs; talk to them about the cool things that come along with using a wheelchair.
- Encourage your community to put curb cuts on all sidewalks. They’re inexpensive and help wheelchair users to be independent.
- Write to your city to encourage the implementation of ramps at various city buildings and parks. Better yet, encourage the city council committees responsible for transportation, building and zoning to include members in wheelchairs or at least consult with people who use wheelchairs in your community. That way, all projects will be accessible to everyone.
- Just be yourself. People in wheelchairs don’t expect special treatment, just fair treatment. Don’t be nervous about interacting with someone in a wheelchair.
We hope these tips help you feel more prepared to work with or help someone in a wheelchair in your community. Once you start thinking about the accessibility of people with varying levels of mobility, you start to see where you and your town could use improvement. If you’re looking for products to make your home or business more accessible, see what we have to offer here!