mobility equipment

A rude thing that people do to wheelchair and mobility scooter users

So, here’s a thing that happens a lot:
  • Someone rides a wheelchair or mobility scooter into a room that has many chairs in it
  • They want to sit on one of those chairs.
  • Several people, trying to be helpful, dart in to remove the very chair they wanted to sit on

This is very annoying.

  • Especially when it happens several times a week
  • Especially when the people who dart in to remove the chairs are very proud of themselves for Helping The Disabled
  • Even more so if they don’t understand “actually, I want to sit in that chair”, and keep removing it anyway
  • Even more so if the person has to physically grab the chair they want to sit on to prevent it from being removed
  • (And sometimes people react badly to being corrected and become aggressive or condescending)

Do not do this annoying thing.

  • Instead, find out what the person you want to be helpful to actually wants
  • People who use mobility equipment are not actually glued to it
  • And different people have different preferences about where they want to sit
  • You can’t know without asking them
  • (You can’t read their mind, Some people seem to think that mobility equipment transmits a telepathic call for help regardless of the person’s actual apparent interest in help. Those people are wrong. You have to actually ask)
  • You can’t know where someone wants to sit unless you ask, so ask
  • One way you can ask is “Would you like me to move anything?”

If you forget to ask, and make the wrong assumption:

  • Recognize that you have been rude
  • And apologize, and say “Oh, excuse me” or “Sorry. I’ll put it back.”
  • This is the same kind of rude as, say, accidentally cutting in line
  • Or being careless and bumping into someone
  • This is not a big-deal apology, it’s basically just acknowledging that you made a rude mistake
  • People make and acknowledge rude mistakes all the time with nondisabled folks
  • The same people who say “excuse me” when they bump into a nondisabled person, are often completely silent when they do something rude related to someone’s disability
  • Being on the receiving end of a lot of unacknowledged rudeness is degrading and draining. Particularly when you see that the same people who are rude to you without apologizing say “sorry” and “excuse me” to people without disabilities they interact with
  • Do not be part of this problem
  • When you are inadvertently rude to someone who has a disability, it’s important to acknowledge and apologize for it in the same way you would for any other inadvertent interpersonal rudeness

Younger people with canes - a list of protocols


Hi everyone! Today we’re going to talk about cane users, and things you should/shouldn’t do around them!

Being a cane user (having graduated from a wheelchair, to arm crutches, to this) myself, I deal with a lot. I can’t use both hands to carry things. I often take stairs a little slower than everyone else. I make several trips. I start out to destinations extra early.

I was born with extremely poor alignment in my legs, leaving the tendons and muscles in my knees to cope with this and suffer a lot of damage. Additionally, I suffer from a blood disease that has weakened my body significantly, giving me balance and stability issues that recently have peaked due to the increase in physical activity required from attending college.

I want to go over a few things people should do around persons with canes - especially younger folk with canes.

The Do’s

  • If you see a cane user struggling, offer to help them! Sometimes, we just need a little extra help, whether it’s getting that package through the door or negotiating our food tray back to our seat.
  • Pick up the cane when they drop it if you have closer access to it than them. I have anxiety so when I drop my cane I immediately freeze up, going into overdrive and clutching the nearest thing to me for fear of falling.
  • Slow down for them a little. If you are walking in a group with a cane user, be aware that they may have a little trouble keeping up. I can haul ass when I want to, but it’s not painless or energy efficient.
  • Be aware. If you know a cane user is near you, be careful with your own body and items that you don’t disturb their balance or their cane.
  • Be polite. Don’t stare or ask questions, even if they look like they don’t need a cane or are too young to have one.

The Don’ts

  • Don’t ask questions. If they want to tell you, they will. I’m tired of explaining to complete strangers that no accident happened, that I simply have really messed up legs.
  • Don’t constantly offer help. It is one thing to lend a hand when it looks like it’s needed, but another to act like the cane user is a complete invalid. 
  • Don’t grab their cane. I don’t know why I have to put this on here, but whether they are standing or sitting do not take a cane user’s cane away from them. I rely on that to get around. Don’t be a jerk.
  • Don’t insist on helping if they turn it down. We know our limits, and can usually get around fine on our own. I personally am really shy so I have trouble accepting help from strangers. Insistence only furthers my anxiety about it.
  • Don’t stare. It may be odd to see a young person with a cane, but when you stare you can make them feel even more othered than having a cane already does.

Feel free to add to this if you think of something else! This is just a quick list I developed from my experience.

(ok to reblog)

Don’t touch wheelchairs without permission

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.