The TAB guide to mobility aids

The TAB guide to mobility aids – temporarily able bodied

Meeting someone who uses a mobility aid shouldn’t be socially awkward; it’s a matter of educating your perspective.

1 Think of the wheelchair, walker, or scooter as part of someone else’s body space. Don’t hang, lean, or put your hands on it without the owner’s okay.

2 Always ask if a user wants your assistance. If the answer is yes, ask how.

3 Make eye contact when you speak directly to anyone seated in a scooter or chair. If your conversation lasts more than a few minutes, sit down yourself, if feasible, so you are both on the same level.

4 Be aware that some people in chairs or scooters can walk. They might – or might not – use braces, crutches, or a walker. Don’t be alarmed or insulted if someone gets up on his own.

5 Don’t stop children from asking questions. If it’s appropriate, let the user answer. Open discussions can prevent fear, distrust, and misconceptions.

6 Don’t think of wheelchairs or crutches as exclusively associated with hospitals or illness. People use them for many reasons.

7 Beware of stereotyping. People who use mobility aids are like everyone else. They have personal lives. Some marry and raise children. Some have high-powered jobs. They have bad days and good ones – and they aren’t necessarily any braver than anyone else.

8 A mobility aid is a tool, not a tragedy. It confers a measure of freedom, for it permits a person with a disability to move about.

9 Most people who use wheelchairs resent the word “confined” for they are not locked in. Without mobility aids, they might be truly confined.

COPYRIGHT 1994 National Multiple Sclerosis Society

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group