During the latter half of the last century, lawmakers began making laws protecting the rights of those in wheelchairs. But even though the law has come a long way, that doesn’t mean we as a society always have a perfect understanding of what it means to be a wheelchair user. Common myths about wheelchairs persist, but taking the time to see things from other perspectives can broaden our horizons.
If You’re in a Wheelchair, You Have No Mobility
While some people are in a wheelchair because they cannot walk at all, there are several other reasons to use a chair. Some have limited mobility and can walk short distances. Others have a full range of motion but can’t move for long periods because of heart or lung conditions. If you see someone get out of their chair, don’t immediately assume they’re “faking it” or don’t need the chair.
People in Wheelchairs Can’t Drive
As mentioned, many wheelchair users can get out of their chairs, making it perfectly possible to drive a car. But people who have wheelchairs can still drive with a side-loading wheelchair-accessible vehicle.
These vehicles come equipped with ramps to get into the car and harnesses to keep the chair stationary during the ride. Many cars also come equipped with hand controls that allow the driver to accelerate and brake if they don’t have sufficient mobility to push the pedals.
Those in Wheelchairs Can’t Participate in Sports
If you have ever seen the Paralympics, you know that a disability is no barrier to participating in sports. There are wheelchair variations of a variety of sports and other physical activities, such as:
- Ballroom Dancing
You don’t need to be an Olympian to take part in events like these either. Many communities have teams or leagues you can join. Here in Pittsburgh, we are known for sports clubs and teams like the Steelwheelers and the Icebergs.
Wheelchair Users Can Never Be Independent
Humans are incredibly adaptive. We are gifted at learning to thrive in a variety of circumstances. Living in a wheelchair is no exception. Wheelchair users are far from helpless and, barring serious medical conditions, can live on their own with few problems. When we view each other with this mindset, we can stop believing common myths about wheelchairs and truly take steps to understand each other better.