Disabilities do not discriminate.
So why do we?
Most people see a person in a wheelchair when they picture someone with a disability, but that isn’t the case at all and that stereotype is actually hurting others who don’t use a wheelchair and have a disability, or don’t use a wheelchair all the time (ambulatory wheelchair users).
Every time I walk out of the van to my wheelchair I notice eyes on me. I am an ambulatory wheelchair user- meaning I am able to walk, but short distances. I use my powerchair because without it I wouldn’t have any quality of life. If I don’t have my legs up, my blood can’t get to my heart or my head- causing some serious, painful symptoms. I don’t look sick until I really do.
When I’m out in public I am cautious about what I portray, because one movement could equal a dump of spoons (depletion of energy) and not because of the movement, but from having to explain or even fight with someone over how I just moved my foot/leg when I’m in a wheelchair.
I get approached almost every time I leave my house regarding something that has to do with my wheelchair. Whether it’s why I’m in it, if I’m “okay”, or how I don’t look like I need one.
I don’t explain my illness to everyone and shouldn’t have too. You don’t ask someone why they can walk. I can understand if you knew they weren’t in one before but be respectful about it.
Every time I go out I think about whether someone’s going to say something if I do something not “stereotypical” of a wheelchair user. I wish I was someone who didn’t care and could just call someone out, but I’m not and there are many others who aren’t either.
Every time someone parks too close to a wheelchair vehicle, every time someone steps over a person’s feet in a wheelchair, every time someone gives us the sympathy look or voice.
If they are not children don’t treat them like it. That is not using respect, that is treating us differently, not equally, and not with equity.
I think one day It will get easier not to care and hopefully one day we won’t have to worry about that.
At the end of the day you never know what’s happening in someone’s life, so before you put judgement on them, remind yourself.
Don’t know what equity means? Check out this post from the Human Rights Hub of Winnipeg.
In the comments if you have a story or something you would like to share about stereotypes on disabilities, disrespect regarding disabilities, or even kindness that people have shown regarding your disability please share below.