If you have a loved one, friend, neighbor or co-worker who uses a wheelchair, you might feel pretty comfortable around wheelchair users. However, there are some wheelchair etiquette guidelines that many people miss, even when they think they know how to interact with people in wheelchairs. Are you doing everything you can to make the wheelchair user in your life feel comfortable? Or are you making some of the mistakes below? Homepro Medical knows it can be frustrating for wheelchair users to be around people who don’t have great wheelchair etiquette. Read on to see how you can improve your etiquette.
- Don’t lean on someone’s wheelchair. If you’re good friends, it’s fine, but otherwise it can be distracting and uncomfortable.
- Offer to help a wheelchair user if you like, but don’t insist. If they really need help, they’ll say yes.
- If the wheelchair user can speak, talk directly to them, not their caregiver.
- If you know you’ll be talking more than a few minutes, find a way to sit down so you can make better eye contact and they don’t have to look up constantly.
- Never use the word “cripple.” Refer to people in a wheelchair as just that, or as “people with a disability.” Politely request that others around you not use words like “cripple.”
- Don’t express pity for people in wheelchairs. Instead, talk to them about the perks that come with using a wheelchair.
- Find ways to promote putting curb cuts on all sidewalks in your community. These are inexpensive and help wheelchair users to travel easily on sidewalks and be independent.
- Encourage your city to implement ramps at all city buildings and parks. Even better, write to the city council committees responsible for transportation, building and zoning and suggest they include members in wheelchairs or at least consult with people who use wheelchairs in your community before making decisions. With their input, all projects will be accessible to everyone.
- Don’t be nervous; be yourself. People in wheelchairs don’t expect to receive special treatment, just fair treatment.