MS and some people's attitude.
I am constantly amazed at some people's attitudes and even more surprised that many people still don't understand the simple guidelines of wheelchair etiquette.
I was recently reminded of this when I read the following article on a forum I belong to (which I can highly recommend) the MS Society www.community.mssociety.org.uk
Thank you to Steve who gave his permission for me to use his words. This I think is an example of some of the ridicules things we hear people say, if only they could think before they speak.
"What did she think I was going to do?"
One of the benefits of having a good robust mobility vehicle is that I am able to attend the occasional community event where the road is closed to traffic and I'm free to mill about amongst the throngs of people. Our Daughter loves it when daddy can come along (she gets a ride) and we can operate as a little family. Last night was the turning on of the Christmas lights in our Town. What a surprise when a young fresh-faced police community support officer came leaping over imploring me to stop.” This is pedestrians only," she bellowed. “I’m a pedestrian," I replied. "But you're on a road vehicle." It was quite tedious having to explain my entitlements to an officer of the law. Anyway, she was really quite patronizing in the end: "Oh promise me you'll be really careful sweetheart," soft-voiced, hand on shoulder.” What was I to say in return?” Yes this a turbo-charged quad in disguise and I'm going to mow everyone down."
I just thought I'd share that precious little moment with you. No police community support officers were harmed in the incident. I was quite forgiving...
When people approach someone in a wheelchair with a carer, why do they talk over you, as though you weren't there, or speak in a patronising way as if you were either deaf or a child, maybe it should start from childhood, be taught in schools why people are in wheelchairs, and how to speak to us, we are still people after all. If you speak to someone in a wheelchair, direct your conversation down to them, look into their eyes not over the top of their head, you don't have to go down on one knee as if proposing, just talk to them.
If pushing someone round in a wheelchair in a shop (that is accessible of cause) make sure you stop were the person what's to look, don’t wheel passed so you can look not them. Maybe a silly thing but it has happened many times to me, for an example my husband took me to Sainsbury's (other supermarkets are available) we were looking for lemons, so we found them and my husband asked are these all right? To which I replied I have no idea I don't know what you are looking at you've pushed me passed them. So those that kindly help us, please just be aware of the person you are with...
And on that note I think it is appropriate to add the following list of simple point to remember about Wheelchair etiquette…
How to Approach People in Wheelchairs
Ignore the wheelchair
Greet them, introduce yourself and shake their hand
Treat them as you do everyone else
Talk to them as you would anyone
Speak directly to the wheelchair user
Sit down at their eye level if possible
Do not grab or touch the wheelchair unless asked by the user
Don’t have a sad look on your face because you feel bad for them
When You Should Offer Assistance
Offer assistance only if the person needs it
Ask what specific way the wheelchair user needs you to help
Don’t assume every wheelchair user needs help
Offer assistance if you see the user struggling to attempt a task
Always wait for the wheelchair user to accept your assistance verbally by offering a yes or no answer
Don’t forget as a wheelchair user you have rights, such as on public transport. Below has been taken from the Citizen Advice look at the web site: www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Traveling by Bus or Coach
"Buses or coaches may need to meet the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 2000 allowing access to the vehicle for disabled passengers. Whether the vehicle has to meet the regulations depends on its age and purpose. In general, vehicles must meet the regulations if they carry more than 22 passengers and were bought into service from 2000 onwards."
Traveling by Train
Under Rail vehicle accessibility regulations disabled people have rights when traveling by train. Disabled people should be able to: getting on and off trains in safety and without unreasonable difficulty and do so in a wheelchair travel in safety and reasonable comfort and do so while in a wheelchair.
So we do have rights...it just a matter of knowing your right so stand up (Metaphorically speaking of cause) for your rights.
All the best AL.
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