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8 Weird Things That Can Happen When You Are a Wheelchair User

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1. People avoiding eye contact

Probably the most common one. It’s fine to look at a disabled person; we don’t bite. When you see someone in a wheelchair feel free to smile + acknowledge them as you would anyone else!

2. People refusing to talk to you

When I go into a shop, restaurant, or even a doctor’s surgery, the staff will often talk over my head, addressing the person I’m with, and completely ignore me. I find this extremely rude, especially if the reason we are there concerns me.

3. Pitying looks

I just don’t need them and can live without them, thanks! I don’t feel sad about going out in the wheelchair, quite the contrary as it gives me freedom. I could be having a bad/good day same as anyone else!

4. Stupid comments

“What’s wrong with your legs?”

“You’re a fake!” (In what world would that be funny?)

Bizarrely, people seem to think I owe them an explanation as to why I’m using a wheelchair, so they can decide whether or not I have a good enough reason for them! My medical condition is none of your business, sorry!

5. People staring, especially when you stand up out of the wheelchair

Yes, it’s rude to stare. And yes, I use a wheelchair but can still walk: that’s known as being an ambulatory wheelchair user (you have not just witnessed a miracle!) There are a lot of different reasons someone might need to use a mobility aid.

6. People talking to you like a child

This happened the other day during a five minute interaction with a cashier at M&S. (I’m like: “Did that just happen?”) Don’t assume that because someone is using a wheelchair their brain has turned to mush!

7. Dogs barking, growling, and jumping up at you

Firstly, control your dog. I understand that the wheelchair looks like a scary foreign object, so it might be an idea to train your dog to be familiar with them. (I’m willing to pet a puppy if this will help!)

8. Improvised disabled access

I’ve been taken on journeys through the bowels of buildings and in all manner of lifts (including a horse lift — yep!) because so many places are not set up for disabled access. Sort it out!

Kudos to everyone having to deal with this rubbish! Keep on truckin’!

Originally published: January 18, 2023
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