Ten Things to Never Say to a Person in a Wheelchair

Tiffiny Carlson

Tiffiny Carlson

1. Slow down there. You might get a speeding ticket.
When you see a wheelchair user and have the urge to blurt the speeding ticket line, remember two things: It’s not funny and it’s not original.

2. What happened to you?
It’s really not any of your business.

3. How fast does that thing go?

4. Do you know so and so in a wheelchair too?
This world is not a village. Just like you would never ask an African American if they know your friend Michael who is also African American, you should never ask this to someone who uses a wheelchair.

5. Is your significant other also in a wheelchair?

6. I’d rather die than be disabled.
Maybe you do feel this way and you’re entitled to your feelings, but it’s probably never a good idea to share this with someone with a disability.

7. You’re good looking for being in a wheelchair.
Gussy yourself up real good, lose some weight, buy a new outfit, slick back your hair; however you make yourself look hot, chances are when you go out in public you may get some crazy quips from random walkers-by.

8. Good for you.
Perhaps one of the most outrageously awful things you can say to someone who uses a wheelchair is “good for you!” whenever we do something basic, like, I dunno, go out in public.

9. Can I ask you a personal question?
We are not talking parrots on display for your amusement.

10. Hey speed racer. Can you pop a wheelie?
And lastly, there’s nothing like calling a full-grown adult who uses a wheelchair “speed racer.”

— Tiffiny Carlson, www.huffingtonpost.com.

Read Carlson’s Spin 2.0 blog on newmobility.com.
Symbol of the Times?

The new International Symbol of Accessibility replaces the old “disabled” icon, which depicted a rather static, object-like disabled person in a wheelchair — the new ISA shows a person zooming dynamically in a wheelchair instead. It’s been officially adopted in New York City.
— Cory Doctorow, boingboing.net

A Wheelchair is a Wheelchair…
Except When It Isn’t.
Here, then, is my “old” wheelchair, back with me for a weekend. It was the best thing that ever happened to me in the spring of 2004, my first motorized mobility. Sure, the newer wheelchair is bigger, faster, more supportive and I daresay sexier, but my muscle memory knows this one so well.

After a while you know all its creaks and quirks, where to lay a hand, elbow or finger to make it go where you want, to make you go where you want. How to hold your feet. How to lean, how that crack in the sidewalk will feel, how to hit that threshold. How to carry things just so. How to weave through the crowds just right.

You’ve taken it everywhere, even places it shouldn’t perhaps go. You remember how it lost that cap, or got that scratch, or bent that screw. You know it because it’s part of you, and you soon get back into a rhythm, and hope it will hold up a bit longer, so it can keep being something to come home to, if you need to come home.
— Alejandra Ospina, Facebook status

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