If there ever was a bingo game which included things said to wheelchair users, I could name a quite a few that I get regularly. Now in this piece, I’m going to talk about the things not to say to wheelchair users. I am of course only speaking from personal experience – I’ve been using my electric wheelchair since I was 2 years old. It would be interesting to see if any wheelchair user readers can relate, let us know! So here we go…
Have you got a licence for that thing? No, no I haven’t. Wheelchair users don’t have some kind of wheelchair test. You don’t have lessons. It’s just another way to get around.
Don’t run me over! I probably get this said to me weekly and usually the person is on the other side of the room… yeah, odd. Sometimes I think it’s from people who are a little stumbled to see a wheelchair user and don’t know what to say so it’s the first thing they can think of. To assure you – trust me, I don’t want to run you over either! When I’m driving, my biggest concern is the people around me. So I can guarantee I will try not to run you over.
What happened to you then? Yes, I’m not joking someone asked me this. Not only asked me this, but it was in a formal work networking setting with lots of people in the room. I was baffled to say the least. I replied with ‘nothing, I was born!’
How fast does it go? Honestly, I’ve never actually known how fast my chair goes. (sorry to the people I’ve answered this to – I lied). The real answer is I don’t know – it’s somewhere between walking and running speed.
I couldn’t do it if I was you! And by this he meant life. He could not live if he was me. This was someone on my street said this to me. Someone who sees me often, going out with friends and having a good time. It is such a shame as he obviously can’t see that I have a great life. Yes, I have aches and pains but so do a lot of people in the world. So, If you have said some of these things, don’t panic! We’re all learning here. Just remember that wheelchair users have heard these A LOT in their time. Disability is a massive part of my life and has shaped who I am. However I also love Coronation Street, technology and partial to a glass of Prosecco or two. Remember, we’ve all got hobbies, opinions and interests. So when you next see a wheelchair user, instead of their disability – find out about them who knows where that conversation could lead to!