Here are some tips to help you know what is appropriate when using a wheelchair
People have to use wheelchairs for different reasons. Being in a wheelchair may not be any one’s choice, it is however not a tragedy it is instead a means of freedom that allows to move independently. Here are some tips to help you know what is appropriate when relating to someone who uses a wheelchair.
Focus on the Person First
When you meet a person in a wheelchair your focus should be on the person first and not on the disability. An individual is a person just like any other regardless of his disability. You should, therefore, look at him and put your focus on him first. Everything else can come later.
Do not assume they Need Your Help
A wheelchair user may need a helping hand here and there. It is good to give a helping hand to a brother. But do not forget to ask. Do not, however, assume that he needs your help even if to your eyes they appear to be struggling. In addition, if your offer to help is accepted ask for instructions and follow them. Also if your offer is declined accept not for an answer and don’t press on. Most wheelchair users have their own ways of carrying out daily tasks.
Keep Off Their Space
A wheelchair user sees the chair as his/her own personal body space, which is very true. Do not lean on it, rock it or even tap it. That is invading his personal space. Keep your hands off the wheelchair unless you are giving a helping hand.
Get to the Same Level
If you are holding a conversation with a person in a wheelchair and it goes on for a few more minutes, you should consider sitting down to put yourself at the same level as the person in the wheelchair.
Talk Directly to the Person Using a Wheelchair
When addressing someone in a wheelchair, talk directly to the person and not to a person standing next to him making the individual in the wheelchair look like he does not exist. Also avoid shouting, forcing enthusiasm and most importantly avoid the “speed limit jokes”
When interacting with a person in a wheelchair act naturally, ask him if unsure of anything, he will be able to answer any questions dealing with special needs and assistance perfectly and must be much interested in ensuring the smooth running of things. Keep it simple and easy, it is suggested to use expressions like “going for a walk” when talking to a person in a wheelchair.