Today is International Wheelchair Day!
International Wheelchair Day takes place around the world on March 1st every year. On this day, people celebrate the positive impact that wheelchairs have on their lives. International Wheelchair Day raises awareness about how people who use wheelchairs move through and involve themselves in their communities.
International Wheelchair Day
A wheelchair is one of the most well-known symbols of accessibility worldwide. People use wheelchairs to travel:
Some people use manual wheelchairs which they wheel with their arms. Other people steer power wheelchairs that have batteries and motors. In addition to the wheelchairs people use every day, there are also wheelchairs for specific activities, such as:
Moreover, wheelchairs come in a variety of colours and styles. Some wheelchairs fold up while others do not. Furthermore, some people may use a wheelchair all the time. Others may sometimes use other mobility devices or walk short distances without devices. People may also transfer from their wheelchairs to other seats.
Meeting People who use Wheelchairs
Many people do not have friends, family members, or colleagues who use wheelchairs. As a result, they may feel uncomfortable approaching someone using a wheelchair, or wonder how to do so. International Wheelchair Day is a chance for people to overcome this discomfort.
When meeting someone in a wheelchair:
Speak directly to the person in the wheelchair, instead of asking other people questions about them.
When talking to someone in a wheelchair for more than a few minutes, ask the person whether or not to sit down to be at eye level.
A wheelchair is part of its owner’s personal space. Therefore, only touch someone’s wheelchair when that person has given permission.
Use language or figures of speech related to walking, such as “step this way”.
However, do not use phrases like “wheelchair-bound” or “confined to a wheelchair”. These phrases suggest that people are “trapped” in their wheelchairs. On the contrary, wheelchairs help people to move freely. Instead of imprisoning people, wheelchairs free people to live full lives.
More Freedom to Move
Despite the freedom wheelchairs offer, there are still many spaces that people using wheelchairs cannot enter. This limited access is often due to physical barriers within buildings or spaces. However, there are ways of preventing and removing physical disability barriers that can give people more freedom to move.
Happy International Wheelchair Day to all our readers!