Wheelchair users ask disturbing questions, which they would like you to know
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“What’s wrong?” “How did it happen?”
People in wheel chairs come across these questions regularly – and want people to know they’re not allowed to ask them.
“I hate when people ask me ‘What happened?'” Says Lucy Trieshmann, 26. “This question narrows me down and makes me objective, as if the only interesting thing about me is why I use a wheelchair.”
More than 61 million adults in the United States have a disability, according to the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention. Of these, 13.7% have a mobility problem that makes walking or climbing stairs very difficult.
But just because you can see somebody disability doesn’t give you the right question about it. Here’s a look at what wheelchair users would like you to know.
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Paul Amadeus Street
Location: Adelanto, California
Occupation: Audiovisual media professional, accessibility consultant
What would you like people to know about being in a wheelchair?
- “Just because we are in a wheelchair does not mean that we are not happy. Even though we face difficult circumstances, we live very happy and fulfilling lives.”
- “Some people think that everyone in a wheelchair can walk and just doesn’t want to walk. Many of us have lost the ability to walk due to injury or illness.”
- “We love to be included in the conversation. I know for myself personally that when I’m with my wife, everyone is talking to her and not me. It’s like I don’t exist and if they stare at me long enough. , they feel they can become disabled by osmosis. “
What’s the biggest misconception people have about you? “That I am not able to perform certain tasks without even giving myself the opportunity. Also, another misconception is that because a person is in a wheelchair, they shouldn’t be in a relationship and get married. that I’m not able to live a fun, productive life. “
What brings you the most joy? “Help others, whether they are in a wheelchair or not. We all have difficulties on a daily basis. When I am able to help uplift and inspire people from all walks of life and share with them things that can help them overcome challenges and deal with issues really brings me the most joy. “
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Occupation: Law student
What would you like people to know about being in a wheelchair? “I want people to know that ambulatory wheelchair users exist. Many people who use wheelchairs can and do walk, to varying degrees. This does not detract from the legitimacy of their identity as a person with a disability. I also wish non-disabled people didn’t think I was unhappy just because I use a wheelchair. My wheelchair is my freedom and my lifeline – why should I be unhappy with the device that makes my life as I know it possible? “
Why saying “disabled” is not bad: “If using it makes someone uncomfortable, it means that they have work to do to deconstruct their internalized ableism. I am proud to be disabled, I would like others to use the word without shame.”
What brings you joy? “Seeing people with disabilities thrive and living their wildest dreams brings me immeasurable joy.”
Occupation: Consultant and director
What people assume: “As a wheelchair user, people assume that I am completely incapable. They talk to the people around me and not to me. People don’t want to look at me because some people are disgusted with wheelchair users and others are embarrassed to look at them. we.”
What would you like people to know? “I would like them to see that I am a human being and that I have wants, needs, wants and dreams that I can achieve like everyone else. I would like them to see my wheelchair is not scary. That he has given me freedom and that it is nothing that they themselves have to fear. “
Location: Victoria, British Columbia
What you would like people to know: “The first thing I would like people to know about wheelchair users is that the majority of us are not paralyzed and are in fact capable of some level of walking… The point is that I can walk, but walking poses a risk to me due to my conditions, not to mention a lot of pain and fatigue.
Stop saying ‘confined to a wheelchair’.Wheelchairs are the opposite for people with disabilities and give us a lot of freedom and independence that we would not otherwise be able to access. “
Why a wheelchair shouldn’t affect someone’s opinion: “I live a good life. I don’t want my wheelchair to be counted in a person’s opinion of me.”
What questions should people stop asking? “I think the one I hate the most is ‘What’s wrong with you?’ because that automatically presupposes that something is wrong with me. Nothing is “bad” with me. I am disabled. It is not a good or a bad thing; it is a neutral thing; it is a reality of life. to you? ‘ which again makes assumptions, with many people assuming that wheelchairs must have been the result of car accidents or other “occurrences.”
What brings you joy? “Being in nature brings me the most joy! Exploring tidal pools, watching bumblebees pollinate flowers, marveling at the perfection of a spider’s web – these activities bring me incredible joy, and really, it’s often my wheelchair that allows me to access it! “
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Occupation: Senior Advisor for AppleCare
What you would like people to know: “A wheelchair is just one part of our identity; Of course, being in a wheelchair is important because it has an impact on daily life, but in every wheelchair seat there is a person who has developed beyond their disability. ‘Inspiration Porn’ isn’t cute; I can’t tell you how many times people have told me I’m an inspiration… for the dumbest things. “
A common misconception about sex: “Society has a habit of hyper-sexualizing a very specific archetype, with wheelchair users not one of them. But hey, I love sex just as much as the person next to it.”
Is there one question that bothers you the most? “Not really. I’ve learned that a lot of people have never really had a direct experience or prolonged interaction with someone in a wheelchair. So they really have no idea, because it’s all new to them. And, even if they know someone else in a wheelchair, there’s such a spectrum – it doesn’t affect two people the same. “