WOULD YOU PUSH A STRANGER'S WHEELCHAIR?
Now this subject has been talked about quite recently in the disabled community and that is, whether it's ok for a stranger to push your wheelchair - out of the blue without fair warning. Now while reading this blog post I want you to keep in mind the title of the blog post "Would you push a stranger's pushchair?" of course not. And if you did you’d get a good amount of funny looks.
Why is it that able-bodied people believe it is ok to push a wheelchair user's chair without asking them if they want help first. Now, I'm not saying don’t offer someone help. What I'm saying is, ask them first!
I know that there are good people that are just genuinely trying to help and make people's life a little easier. But, be careful with how you approach this, if you push someone's wheelchair without their warning, they're going to be pissed off, opposed to relieved. Imagine someone came along and just started carrying you or pushing you to walk faster, assuming that they were helping you. It's intrusive and very offensive.
My experience with this? Luckily, due to travelling a lot with friends and family, I haven't experienced it too much but I have experienced it on one or two occasions. One of them being last December. I was going up to London to see the pantomime and popped into Pret. The queue was fairly long, so Gina asked me to sit in the queue while she grabbed the food. Obviously I was happy to do this, however, while sitting in the queue a man two people back from me, asked the woman behind me if she could push me forward! In sheer shock, I stayed quiet. Luckily the woman responded with "I'm pretty sure he's fully capable of pushing himself." The man then began to try and defend his point saying he was trying to make my life easier when really he was just trying to hurry me along and get me out the way.
My reason for writing this blog post is not just to have a moan, but to remind you that, of course, it's fine to offer help to a disabled individual, if it seems like they're struggling. However, it is never acceptable to push someone’s wheelchair without asking if they're ok with it first. Unfortunately, some of the community have experienced this so many times they had to resort to ways to try and combat it such as putting spikes on their push handles. Now I know this may seem a bit extreme but sometimes people can feel like they have to make a statement for people to notice.
So what I want you to take away is, by all means, offer help to a disabled person but ensure you ask them first. Because sometimes we want to prove a point that we are able to do it, or we can do it and want the independence of doing it unaided. If someone tells you " No thank you." Then they mean No. As said, it's rude, offensive and intrusive.