Rolling Right: The Dos and Don’ts When Interacting with Wheelchair Users
International Wheelchair Day is celebrated on 1st March every year to raise awareness about the challenges and experiences of people who use wheelchairs. For people who are not familiar with disability, interacting with a person in a wheelchair can be a bit daunting. However, there are certain do’s and don’ts that everyone can follow to ensure a more inclusive and respectful interaction with people who use wheelchairs.
- Treat people with disabilities with respect: The most important thing to remember is that people with disabilities are individuals, and they should be treated with the same respect as anyone else.
- Ask before you help: If you see someone struggling with something, it’s natural to want to help. But before you jump in, it’s always best to ask if they need help. Some people may be able to do things independently, and others may appreciate the help.
- Communicate clearly: When speaking with someone who uses a wheelchair, it’s essential to speak clearly and make eye contact.
- Be patient: People who use wheelchairs may move more slowly, and it may take them more time to get things done. Be patient and allow them the time they need to complete tasks.
- Assume they need help: People who use wheelchairs are often very independent and may not require assistance. Assuming they need help without asking can be condescending and disrespectful.
- Use demeaning language: Avoid using language that is demeaning or patronizing, such as “poor thing” or “suffering from a disability.” These types of phrases can be offensive and suggest that people with disabilities are less capable than others.
- Touch their wheelchair without permission: A person’s wheelchair is their personal space, and it’s important to respect that. Don’t touch or move their wheelchair without their permission.
- Ignore them: Ignoring someone who uses a wheelchair is not only rude but can be hurtful. Make sure to include them in conversations and treat them with the same respect as everyone else.
- Make assumptions about their capabilities: People who use wheelchairs are just as capable as anyone else. Don’t assume they are unable to do things or make decisions for themselves.
Treating people with disabilities with respect and inclusivity is crucial for building a more inclusive and understanding society. By following these do’s and don’ts, we can create a more accessible world for everyone, regardless of ability.
On International Wheelchair Day, let’s celebrate the strength and resilience of people who use wheelchairs and work towards creating a world where everyone is included and valued, including those benefiting from supported independent living NDIS.