It seems like not a week goes by without some story in the news about inappropriate touching. Thanks to the overeager hands of politicians, entertainers, businessmen and other public figures, there is more discussion about the boundaries of “proper” touching and how we physically interact with each other than at any point I can remember.
I bring this up not because I have some brilliant solution or “best practices” that will change everyone’s perspectives, but because I can’t imagine a better time to examine where those boundaries lie in regard to us — people with disabilities.
On the one hand, none of us want strangers accosting us and pushing our chairs when not asked; on the other hand, ignoring the need for closeness and the connections bred by human touch can be equally harmful, and even dangerous.
Whether I’m out for a roll, at a social event, or even hanging out with friends, I am constantly reminded that most people simply don’t know how to interact with people who use wheelchairs and other assistive devices. I see the confusion and uncertainty on strangers’ faces as they take in my bulky power wheelchair — how do I approach him? Should I extend a han