Touching someone’s wheelchair, or other mobility equipment, is a really big deal. You shouldn’t ever do this without permission.
Part of the reason this is a big deal is that most mobility equipment users experience their mobility device as part of their body. It’s invasive and bad to touch people without their permission.
But it’s actually even more wrong to touch mobility equipment without permission than it is to touch someone without permission generally.
Messing up someone’s mobility equipment means they can’t get around. It can also sometimes cause immediate injury. It can also lead to injury by making the equipment less safe to use (for instance, if you screw up someone’s cushion and they can’t afford to get it fixed right away, that could cause a pressure sore.)
Touching mobility equipment without permission is a threat to use dangerous force and hurt someone or leave them stranded. Even if you don’t mean to be threatening. Even if you think you’re helping the person. Even if you think you’d never hurt anyone. It’s never ok to make another person that vulnerable without their permission (unless someone else is physically attacking you and you are in danger to the point that violent self-defense is justified.).
It’s sort of like… you don’t touch people without their permission. And you *especially* don’t grab someone without permission. And you *especially espeically* don’t put your hand on someone’s throat without permission.
Moving someone’s mobility equipment without permission is like attacking someone with handcuffs. (Or worse).
Don’t do it.
This also goes for things like canes, especially for people who otherwise “look fine,” like me. People don’t think we need them, so they somehow feel free to move them whenever. I’ve had people move my cane out of reach because it was blocking a chair, and I had to limp over and grab it because they don’t just ask me to move it.
Basically, don’t touch people’s shit.
This. It’s never ok to decide someone doesn’t really need their mobility equipment and take it away from them. (That happens to folks who don’t otherwise “look fine” too, though.)