Wheelchair Etiquette

Kiana recently shared her story about having MD. In it she mentioned that some people treated her differently when she started using a wheelchair. As a follow-up, I asked her to give us a few tips on how to treat people in wheelchairs. The following is what she said.

I think one of the most import things to know when it comes to people in wheelchairs is to not make assumptions. Don't assume that every person in a wheelchair is mentally challenged. Don't assume our abilities are the same as each other. Others may find some things easier than others and some find things harder than others. In any case just don't assume.

The next important thing is to consider the accessibility for people in wheelchairs. Obviously we can't do stairs, but it doesn't stop there. Bathrooms are also an issue. Accessibly stalls aren’t always accessible. For example, if the door opens into the room and there is not room for the chair to clear the door, it is not actually accessible. That goes for other doors too – they can actually block the ramp! It is also very important to make sure the door-opening buttons work, as we rely on them.

It’s important to respect wheelchair parking stalls. I can still drive a vehicle on my own by using my feet. I have a van with a side lift that comes out the right side of the van. When it comes to parking stalls, those lines in the middle between handicap parking stalls for people like me who need extra space to get in and out of the van - they are there for a reason. If they are blocked, I can’t get out of my van.

Another thing is, don't be afraid to approach people in wheelchairs. I like it when people come up to me, talk to me, and start a conversation. I don't mind if people ask me questions and I am open to answer almost anything. Some people may not be, but I personally love if people are interested and are curious about my situation. To me it is better to have people approach you rather than avoid you because they are uncomfortable. Being in a wheelchair is not contagious! We are the same as everyone else, we just have different limitations and abilities.

Lastly, be kind. If it seems like we need help, ask if you can help or get someone who can. We just want to be treated like normal people, even though we may need more help sometimes. We get used to it and eventually you can too. There are other things in life where people require extra attention or help. For example, some people have food allergies and can't eat certain foods. You just adapt and move on. We all have something in our life we need to adapt to at one point or another. It doesn't need to be a big issue or cause a scene. Just be kind and the world will be a better a better place.

About the Author:

Kiana enjoys spending time with her family and friends, especially her cousin Sadie who is 7-years-old, She loves singing and music, She also likes to laugh! She enjoys shopping, playing games, and watching movies. To quote Kiana, "Most of all I want to continue to grow in my walk with Jesus, trying to learn to lean on him and trust him despite what happens around me, to live life to the full, and not let fear or anything keep me from what God wants for my life."

If you would like to send Kiana a message, email connect@thereismore.ca and put her name in the subject line!