Sheri Denkensohn-TrottQ. I am a quadriplegic woman, and I use a motorized wheelchair for mobility. I don’t have the muscles to control my trunk or enough arm strength to push myself upright in my chair. Occasionally, I lose my balance and my body slumps to one side. When that happens, I am unable to reach the controls for my chair and cannot move it — I need someone to push my shoulder back toward the center of the chair so I can sit up straight again. This is not a problem when I’m with people I know, but sometimes I need to ask a stranger for help.

Recently, I was crossing the street in my neighborhood, and just as I rode into the crosswalk, I lost my balance in my chair and my body slumped to the right. Alone, I had no choice but to ask a passerby for help. I called out for help to the first person I saw crossing the street, a young man, but he didn’t stop. Soon after, a couple who appeared to be in their early 60s came by, and I asked them for help. They were receptive, asked what to do and then assisted without hesitation.


After arriving safely at my destination, I reflected on the encounter. Why wouldn’t the younger guy help me? Was he scared of individuals with disabilities? Did he not want to touch a woman? Was there so