How Inaccessibility Leads to Social Isolation


It seems like no one talks about the social isolation when you live life from a wheelchair. It’s tough not being able to join celebrations like weddings and baby showers, graduation, birthday festivities, euchre or Christmas parties because you can’t get into people’s homes. After having dinner with friends and someone suggests going to their home for coffee, you kindly bail out, because who wants to make other people feel awful for suggesting it?

You may want to be involved in neighborhood meetings, but the clubhouse has stairs. You are invited to a party to be honored, but the venue isn’t accessible. You want to join a small social group but unless you are always the one to host, you can’t. You are invited to a BBQ, but you can’t access the deck to join everyone else. Your company has an outing to a baseball game and everyone else is sitting in one section, while you are alone in another section that is accessible. People might think you don’t care or don’t want to socialize, but it just isn’t so. You just cannot get in the door.

I believe in having a positive attitude and one of joy, but sometimes you have to own your feelings of frustration and sadness over it all. It is great to be included and invited, but when you keep running into barriers you may want to both scream and cry. Don’t stop inviting friends who have physical disabilities — just understand if we can’t always join in the fun.

Getty image by Kari Hoglund.


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