For the love of dog do not touch other people’s mobility aides

I won’t say I’m “surprised” that this happens, because my faith in humanity has been utterly shattered for years, but I am severely disappointed. People with mobility disabilities rely–I mean literally, entirely, need–their mobility aides. Under no circumstances should you be touching these devices without the explicit consent of the people who use them. This includes wheelchairs especially. It is likely thoughtless ableism that makes people think the handlebars on the back of wheelchairs is a general invitation to push the wheelchair around, but seriously, if somebody looks like they’re struggling, use your damn words first.

o some people these ‘incidents’ may not seem like much but trust me they are. Since then whenever I go out in my wheelchair I think it’s safe to say there is a level of paranoia that is always there. This is much worse at times where I have been on my own or I am propelling my wheelchair myself. After these experiences I don’t find it surprising that there is a level of paranoia and anxiety around going out in my wheelchair. However, I shouldn’t have these feelings. Whenever I go out in my wheelchair now, if my chairs moves slightly in a different way to what I am expecting I panic. I quickly turn my upper body around to check behind me. I look to both sides of me and repeat. I have to try to switch off alarm mode in my head, to try to stay calm a collected. Now when I say if my wheelchair moves differently I mean, if there’s a slight slope or uneven service I think that someone has hold of me and my wheelchair. If I haven’t paid much attention to what’s beneath my wheels i.e. pavement, tar mac, cobbles, paving slabs, carpet or laminate flooring and I move differently and slightly quicker or with more force I panic and I believe that someone has a hold of my wheelchair. I should feel safe and comfortable in my wheelchair. I shouldn’t be concerned that free handles on my wheelchair are an open invitation for someone to push me or move me around.

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  1. jazzlet says

    Or with puppies in training despite the fact that they are puppies and so very cute. A puppy in training will be wearing a coat that says this very clearly.

  2. whirlwitch says

    Right the fuck on! One advantage of my current main mobility aid over my wheelchair is it has no handles, so I don’t have to deal with well-meaning “here let me help you”, said in goddamn conjunction with already-pushing-because-of-course my chair where you figure I need to go. The chair also makes punching the pusher difficult, not to mention that sometimes it isn’t a feasible thing for social reasons (like when I had just been a bridesmaid, and pusher was the other spouse of one of the new brides and we’re on our way to wedding pics.)

    Treat pushing a chaired person like picking someone up and carrying them somewhere, unless you also do that without explicit permission, in which case what the hell, learn boundaries.

  3. chigau (違う) says

    I guess I’m in the minority.
    I have never, ever, touched a chair without asking permission.
    Even when the occupant was unlikely to respond.

  4. blf says

    I live under a very well insulated log or something, because I’ve never seen anything like this. (I don’t doubt it happens.) The only thing even vaguely similar I can recall seeing was an individual with a guide dog asked a passerby for something, and the passerby gave directions to the dog. Didn’t touch / pet it or anything, but answered the individual’s question by looking at the dog when speaking (I cannot recall now if any hand gestures were used).

  5. says

    And let’s not get into the number of times my ex felt it was appropriate to just move me out of his way, like I’m a thing. Worse, it’s apparently perfectly legal to put hands on someone’s wheelchair and shove them, as long as you don’t touch their actual body.

    There needs to be a federal law about fucking with mobility devices and other essential adaptive equipment.