Sunday, May 30, 2010

Wheelchair Etiquette

Think of the wheelchair as an extension of the person who uses it. Here are some tips, many of which also apply to those who use crutches, canes, or walkers.
  • In general, you should keep your hands off the wheelchair.
  • Respect personal space. Particularly avoid patronizing pats. Consider what your own reaction would be to this sort of behavior.
  • Try to place yourself at eye level when conversing for any length of time with a person in a wheelchair. It’s impossible to deal with another as a peer if one of you is looking up and the other is looking down. Besides, it’s easier on the neck for both parties and generally more comfortable.
  • Don’t move a wheelchair or crutches out of reach of the person who uses them unless you are asked to do so. And if you do move them, remember to place them within the sight of their owner to avoid possible uneasiness or even panic.
  • Don’t just decide to help out. Ask first. Push a wheelchair only after asking the occupant if you may do so. A good time to offer help is when the person in the wheelchair is encountering steep inclines or ramps or thick carpets.
  • If you’re planning a party or other social function, consider whether the location has access for wheelchairs. Think about such things as steep hills and obstacles when giving directions to the location. Remember that a disabled person may need extra time to reach the destination.

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