There are many misconceptions about wheelchair disability. Just the name alone seems to imply a physical difference between those in wheelchairs and those who are not, but there is much more associated with the term. Chances are that you’ve probably known or had an encounter with someone in a wheelchair. Thus, it’s important to know about the common myths behind wheelchair disability and how to be respectful to those in wheelchairs.
The term “special”, in relation to someone in a wheelchair, doesn’t constitute equality. It implies that they are different from non-wheelchair people and consequently should be treated differently. If anything, people in wheelchairs want to be seen and treated just like everyone else, regardless of their disability.
Often times, wheelchair disability is perceived as a personal burden that warrants pity from everyone else. However, this is clearly a wrong way of approaching the problem because once again it implies that those in wheelchairs need you to feel sorry for them. We should provide them our sympathy, not our pity, instead.
It’s not correct to assume that people in wheelchairs are completely helpless and require your help for everything. Wheelchair disability doesn’t and shouldn’t mean dependency. You should always ask if they need your assistance, rather than assuming, because it makes them think that they’re not capable of taking care of themselves.
People in wheelchairs are quite capable of participating in activities that give their life meaning and fulfillment. Instead of looking at their limitations, you should focus on their abilities. Wheelchairs may create unwanted challenges for them, but it’s not impossible for them to live a normal life.
The biggest takeaway is to always treat people in wheelchairs with respect and consideration. They’re just like everyone else and shouldn’t be seen as disabled, incapable, or different.