20 Things Not to Say or Do to Someone in a Wheelchair

(Photo: Thinkstock)

As a wheelchair user, I’ve experienced quite a varied reaction from the able-bodied public, so I thought I’d share a few things you shouldn’t say or do to those of us who use wheels.

No, you’re really not. It’s a disabled bay and you don’t have a permit, so get out of my space. I need this larger bay to get my wheelchair out of my car. Move.

Why would you ask a stranger such a personal question? It’s extremely rude and intrusive, and why assume I’m using a wheelchair because my legs don’t work?

Now, that’s a backhanded compliment if I’ve ever heard one. Disability doesn’t discriminate. I can still be fabulous and use a wheelchair.

Oh, of course, I’ll just go for a run while you go for a ride in my wheelchair. No. No. No.

I have a voice, I’m an intelligent person and I can answer for myself.

Yeah, because who would want to walk places and not be in agony?

I never understand this one. How am I inspirational? I’m shopping for food — so inspirational.

Bloody hell, calm down, it’s not that bad. It takes some getting used to and it’s difficult, but surely living a life with adaptions is better than not living at all.

I’m not a child. Do you know how patronizing that is?

Shock horror! We all use wheelchairs for various reasons; I use a wheelchair due to pain, fatigue and dislocations. I can’t walk that far, I can’t stand for long. Don’t assume that because someone is using a wheelchair their legs don’t work.

I have an adapted vehicle and my legs work, just not as well as I’d like them to. Don’t look shocked when you see me getting out of my wheelchair and into the driver’s seat of a car.

Don’t ever think it’s OK to grab my wheelchair and move me without my consent. If I am in your way, don’t push my chair. Ask me politely and I’ll gladly make some space.

Yes, every single person in the whole world who uses a wheelchair knows each other. How naive.

You have no idea how I feel. You were wearing a plaster cast, and others would have been able to acknowledge you’ve suffered from an acute injury. You wouldn’t have experienced ableism or the grief, sadness and acceptance of having to use a wheelchair full-time.

Oh my days, do not do this or I will run you over. I’m not an animal; it’s so rude and patronizing.

No, he’s not a saint, he’s a normal guy who loves a girl who happens to be in a wheelchair.

It’s not worth it. I will punch you.

What a comedian. If only your motor-mouth could get a ticket.

There’s no age limit. Wheelchairs aren’t only for the elderly; my body is broken and hates me, therefore I need this to live a “normal” life.

Don’t assume everyone in a wheelchair can’t walk, and do not take pictures or make memes of disabled people.

A wheelchair is freedom. It means I can go out and do things. I wouldn’t be able to walk around a shopping center; I can barely walk to my car from my house. My current wheelchair is a pacing strategy that helps me do things without excessive pain or fatigue.

A wheelchair can be used for various reasons, so please think because you say something ridiculous.

By Sarah WilsonSarah in Wonderland


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