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15 Things Only Wheelchair Users Would Understand

Posted by ROLAND REZNIK on October 18, 2015. 0 Comments

You have a unique perspective of the world around you when you live life with a disability and as a wheelchair user. Some situations and experiences are good, bad, funny and stressful. Whether you are new to living your life as a wheelchair user or you are a seasoned veteran, the following things are universal experiences you may confront on a daily basis. Here is a list of 15 things only wheelchair users would understand.

1. People Staring at You 

You may begin to feel like you are famous with the amount of stares you receive on a daily basis. You can be anywhere, at work, the grocery store, a restroom, it doesn’t matter where you are, people are going to stare.

2. Elevators are Far Away

You will begin to believe that all of the architects of the world banned together and decided that elevators should be placed the furthest from the entrance as possible. Also when you finally get to the elevator, it is often too small to fit your wheelchair and more than one other person. This forces you to either wait on the next elevator or hope that people are friendly enough to get off of the elevator so you can fit, or simply push their body against the wall for the duration of the ride.

3. Ramps, Ramps and More Ramps

Mixed emotions will happen at some point with ramps. First you will just be so happy you see a ramp that will allow you to get into the building you desire. Then you will feel like, oh, another ramp! If you have a manual chair pushing yourself up a ramp can be exhausting, not to mention take a lot of time to achieve. Power wheelchairs have a much easier time going upwards on the ramp. However, exiting the building on a ramp is an entirely different experience. If the building doesn’t have electric doors that pop open as it senses a person approaching. You will find yourself going downhill on the ramp headed directly for the closed doors. An inexperienced wheelchair user can find themselves smashing into the door. This is especially true at medical buildings that have a ramp indoors at the entrance of the building.

4. People Hogging Handicapped Parking Spots

Wheelchair users aren’t selfish, but when you see a senior citizen or a person of any age capable of walking and void of any obvious physical disability, towards a handicapped parking spot, you will get a bit mad.

5. Everything You Want is on the Top Shelf

This happens to every wheelchair user at some point or another. But it happens most often in the grocery store. You may be having a great day, strolling through the grocery store checking off your list, then it happens, the item you need most is on the very top shelf. Oh, how convenient when you look down the aisle and it is suddenly empty and there is no one around to provide help. You will have to go searching for an employee or hope for a fellow shopper to be kind enough to help.


6. Telling Your Story

Your story of how and why you use a wheelchair is personal. But you will come across plenty of strangers who feel that they should ask this very question. You can’t be rude, so you end up telling your story over and over again. Some wheelchair users have narrowed their story down to just a few words, such as auto accident, since birth, injury or illness. If pressed further by the stranger you can try to change the subject or simply say you don’t like to discuss it. Don’t worry about being rude, they shouldn’t have asked about your story while standing on a grocery line or a retail store anyway.

7. Using the Term “Going for a Walk”

Some wheelchair users may feel uncomfortable saying “I’m going for a walk,” but you really are in your eyes. You just happen to be using a wheelchair.

8. Always Being Asked if Help is Needed

While it is understandable that people are trying to be polite when it comes to offering help, there is a time and place for it. You will find that people will ask you if you need help when you are just waiting in a long line for service at a store, just like everyone else. Where are these people when you need to get something off the top shelf?

9. Being Separated from Your Friends

This is especially true when you go to a concert or live show. While most venues are wheelchair accessible and you get decent seating, you are only allowed to keep one or two friends with you, the rest of the group gets separated from you. Depending on the venue you may even end up enjoying the concert alone.


10. Skipping Private Parties

You will find that you will get invited to plenty of parties at your friends or relatives houses. The only problem is they most-likely do not have ramps to enter their homes. Unless you have people around to help carry you up the stairs of the entrance of the house, and back down again at the end of the party, you are forced to cancel and skip the party.

11. You Know Every Crack in the Sidewalk

This means you have a good eye and can spot cracks in a path, broken pavements, holes, dips and more as you use paved surfaces. You will grow a strong dislike for cobblestones too!

12. War at the Bus Stop 

If you take public transportation most city buses only have one space, or two at the most, for a wheelchair or baby stroller. When you see a fellow passenger waiting at the bus stop that is a wheelchair user or has a baby stroller, you know there is going to be war and one of you is going to be late to wherever you are going.

13. San Francisco is Your Ultimate Workout

If you ever get a chance to visit the charming city of San Francisco you will be captivated, thrilled and challenged when navigating the rolling hills and steep dips. Some wheelchair users look forward to accomplishing a visit to the San Francisco, while others will do their best to avoid it.

14. Inaccessible Wheelchair Bathrooms

When you finally navigate your way to a public restroom you find the wheelchair accessible one is either being used by a non-wheelchair user because they like to have their space, or it is being used as a storage closet for the business or store you are visiting.

15. People Pat You on Your Head

When this first happens to you, it will take you off guard. Nobody will ever really figure out why grown adults will feel the need to pat wheelchair users on the head like they are a young child, but this happens often when out in public and it’s done by strangers!

As a wheelchair user your day is filled with obstacles and inconveniences. Once you become a seasoned wheelchair user you will begin to approach most situations with a sense of humor. Try not to let the difficult situations negatively affect your entire day. Surround yourself with good people and fellow wheelchair users, so you have someone who can relate to your daily experiences.

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