Wheelchair Assistance Etiquete

This is a sore topic for me. I, personally, hate being pushed around in my chair. Even if it is from the most sympathetic place, there is just something so debilitating about it. In short distance, I can move faster than you. Long distances I can do at my own pace, and it is not too much slower than you can make it.

So, yes: my biggest pet peeve is when I am not going fast enough for someone else. I get it. It is frustrating. Especially if you have to wait for me for whatever reason. I totally understand getting impatient and cursing me under your breath. What there is no excuse for is moving me along at your pace by just grabbing the handles.

It is not too hard: just ask if I would like a hand. Personally, I will probably say no, but I will move out of the way and let you pass. That goes for dealing with anyone in a wheelchair. Just ask. It’s a physical disability, and we can advocate for ourselves.

Now, when hills come into play, please ask. I know in my state, I would love the boost. My arms are probably tiered, and I probably want a reprise from the slog. Again: a simple asking is all that is necessary.

Why am I writing this? Why does something that seems so obvious need to be reiterated?

The other day, my roommate told me about how someone pushed him from the parking lot to the elevator. They did not ask if he wanted the “assistance” and, to be honest, he said they did not seem like they cared to. He was obviously a bit out of sorts, but his response was simply “it happens” and a shrug.

I got angry. Probably more angry than I should have. It should never “just happen” in any circumstance.

If someone ahead of you is moving slower than you would like, you go around them or ask if they need a hand. You do not pick them up, move them, and carry on with your day. If you did that, it would be considered assault. That person you moved would feel like a burden (ignoring how demeaning that would be and ignoring the social stigma that would be placed on you it action was taken).

My end point is that yes, we can probably advocate for ourselves. Yes, we do know what would help or not help. Yes, we get it: we are slower than you would like at times. Seriously, however: Fuck Off. If you are not one-hundred percent sure, ask. Think about what you need as an abled person.

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