Tag Archives: Wheelchairs

How to interact with a wheelchair user


Via How to Interact with a Person Who Uses a Wheelchair: 10 Steps

I don’t necessarily agree with everything in this post because there are many many different opinions on this subject. Feel free to agree or disagree in a comment. 

People use wheelchairs for many different reasons. Wheelchairs are enabling and mobilizing, like a car or a bicycle. If you’re interacting with wheelchair user for the first time, it can be difficult to know how to act. You don’t want to cross any boundaries or accidentally offend someone, but at the same time you want to be helpful and understanding. Here’s how to find a good balance. They are no different then you.


1 Avoid presumptions about a person’s physical abilities. Avoid presumptions about a person’s physical abilities. You don’t know what this person’s physical abilities are. Just because someone is in a wheelchair it does not mean that they are paralyzed or that they are incapable of taking a few steps. Some people only use a wheelchair because they cannot stand too long, or have a walking restriction problem. Many times, people who never use nor need a wheelchair rent them because too long a walk is extremely tiring, or they have a heart condition. Even if someone is paralyzed, that does not necessarily mean they are completely numb. Do not test whether a person is genuinely paralyzed. If you see a person in a wheelchair moving their legs or stand up, do not question their ability or disability, and try not to act surprised.

2 Greet a wheelchair user the same as you would anyone. Extend your hand, even if they have limited use of their hands or an artificial limb. Generally, it’s appropriate to offer to shake hands regardless of their condition.

3 Speak directly to the person who uses the wheelchair. If someone is accompanying that person (pushing the wheelchair, for example), do not talk to this companion about the person in the wheelchair; for example, “Will he/she be needing help with..?” to figure out how to help. That is incredibly rude and implies that the person using the wheelchair is not able to answer on his/her own. Always address him or her directly and respectfully. When you find that you are going to continue the conversation for a bit longer than you had thought, suggest you go somewhere where you can take a seat. If you can’t relocate to a seating area, then stand a few feet away, so that the person does not have to lift their head to look at you.

4 Don’t feel shy about using expressions like “running along” or “let’s go for a walk”. The phrases are figurative, not literal, and a wheelchair user understands that. It can be more uncomfortable if you blunder the conversation to avoid such phrases, because it shows that the wheelchair user’s condition is on your mind.

5 Keep your observations to yourself. Comments like “Oh, that zooms so fast!” or “Look out, there is a speed camera in that hall” or “I didn’t see you — does that have indicators?” are patronizing and belittling, only serving to make a mobility impaired person more not less ‘different’. Don’t notice the wheelchair unless you have a valid, direct question or comment. Would you make comments about speed if you were talking about someone’s legs? Do you feel the need to comment on someone’s glasses? See the wheelchair the same way as you see someone’s glasses — a sometimes irritating but nonetheless useful tool for doing what you want and need to do, and something that is no one’s business but the person using it.

6 Do not pat or touch the wheelchair user (or the wheelchair) unless you have their permission. Because they are ‘down low’ at the height of children, people seem to instinctively pat, touch or tap and for anyone with spinal or back problems, this may be painful; in addition, it is a gesture that can feel patronizing. The same goes for leaning on or touching the wheelchair itself.

7 Offer to help when appropriate. Knowing when to offer a helping hand can be tricky. Remember that because a person uses a wheelchair, this does not necessarily mean that he or she is in need of assistance. Usually he or she will prefer to remain independent, and is proud of the fact that he or she has learned to adapt well enough to remain so. If you see a situation where they could use your help, ask. Whatever you do, don’t move the wheelchair without permission. Even if they’re not using the wheelchair, moving it out of their reach without consulting them first is not a good idea.

Be prepared to hear “No”. Since many wheelchair users may have been treated condescendingly by strangers in the past, some might seem stand-offish or rude when you offer your assistance. Don’t let a rude come-back to your offer of help keep you from offering help to the next person you encounter. Don’t pass by a person you can see is struggling just to avoid your offer of help being denied. Some wheelchair users will also accept help on some occasions, but not others. For example, an offer to help push a wheelchair user up a ramp on a nice day may be declined, but that same offer may be accepted on a day that is excessively hot.

8 Learn the location of “accessible” ramps. Look for them in restrooms, elevators and telephones in a mall, in case you are asked or are giving directions. Never just assume, though, that a person in a wheelchair is not capable of finding out these locations by himself or herself. They know how to use a mall directory as well as you do. But, don’t assume that overcoming stairs is the only concern a mobility-impaired person will have; having to go 100 metres to avoid three stairs is often much more of a problem than navigating the three stairs (it’s not easy propelling a wheelchair, maneuvering a wheelchair past obstacles like people who stand and talk in the middle of a corridor, or walking on crutches). Ask “What’s the easiest way for you to do this?” Listen to and follow their instructions carefully.

9 Respect them even when you’re not interacting with them.Respect them even when you’re not interacting with them. Don’t be one of those people who makes life difficult for wheelchair users. You don’t want to meet someone in a wheelchair while you’re sitting in a handicapped seat or while your car is in a handicapped spot. The more you make it a habit to be cognizant of wheelchair users in everyday life, the more comfortable you’ll be when you’re face to face with someone who happens to use a wheelchair.(Yeah, we don’t all need those seats with the handicap sign but people with canes, walkers, crutches etc. do, and some of those people need to use the airport wheelchairs etc. that may be where they switch from the chair to the airport wheelchair, sometimes even blind people use the wheelchairs for a short moment because the stupid person who works for the airport etc. thinks it would be easier to get them to where they need to be. Get the picture?)

Try to be aware of the environment, even if you don’t think a person with a disability is in your area. Don’t use the accessible toilets as a broom closet, don’t put things in the middle of the hall or aisle, and don’t use or obstruct handicapped parking spots.

When shopping, be aware of scooter/wheelchair users — try to keep to one side or the other of an aisle, keep your children or companion(s) from walking alongside you abreast forming a wall, and try to not stop short, take a sudden turn or suddenly go backwards. Share the aisle, walk as you would drive, and be aware that wheelchair users don’t have brakes and don’t like being forced to say things like “Pardon, can I get past?”

10 Don’t compare a young wheelchair user to an elderly adult. “Hey! All you need is pearls and you and Grandma could be on a team…” is rude. Don’t do it.


Respect trained animals. People with physical disabilities might be using service animals. If so, remember that these animals are highly trained. Do not pet, feed or distract the dog in any way.

If you manage a restaurant, try to identify a booth and a table that are easily accessible to a person in a wheelchair and keep a wide path open to it.

When in conversation with someone in a chair, sit down yourself if possible. It is very tiring for that person to have to stare up at you. It is much easier to be eye to eye on the same level.

When in a conversation with a group of people, don’t stand in front of the person in the wheelchair. This blocks them out of the conversation and is very rude. Try to remember to open up a circle more to include the person in the wheelchair.

Never abandon a shopping cart in a parking space, especially in or near a designated handicapped space.

These instructions generally apply when interacting with anyone who’s using a device to assist with their mobility, such as a scooter. Treat a person with a mobility scooter as you would someone with a wheelchair. They are used for the same kind of reasons.

If you are hosting an event such as a wedding or party, check to see if it is accessible. Look at the site yourself and make sure that there are no barriers to getting in to the building, there is room for the chair to move through the facility, bathrooms are outfitted (room to turn around, sturdy handrails), and if it is an outdoor event, the ground or surfacing allows a wheelchair to move easily over it. Gravel, sand, soft or very uneven surfaces can present a challenge.

It’s not rude to ask your friend in a wheelchair to carry something. Many disabled people like to be able to reciprocate, so they may offer to carry your shopping bags since that’s easier for the person in the chair than the person walking. Accept gracefully.

When parking, avoid parking beside a van with a handicap license plate that appears to be away from other vehicles. The handicap van occupant may need the empty space next to the van to deploy their ramp when they return to the vehicle. Not all designated handicap parking spaces have sufficient space beside them to accommodate the ramp which may require up to nine feet to deploy so sometimes it is necessary for ramp-equipped handicap vans to park far away from other cars to obtain the necessary space.

When shopping, don’t load your packages on the person in the wheelchair. This is very rude and may prevent the person in the wheelchair from enjoying their shopping trip.


Posted by on August 6, 2013 in Disability


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Daily prayer

Daily prayer


Dear Lord, I thank you for this day. I thank You for me being able to see and to hear this morning. I’m blessed because You are a forgiving God and an understanding God. You have done so much for me and You keep on blessing me. Forgive me this day for everything I have done, said or thought that was not pleasing to you. I ask now for Your forgiveness.

Please keep me safe from all danger and harm. Help me to start this day with a new attitude and plenty of gratitude. Let me make the best of each and every day to clear my mind so that I can hear from You.

Please broaden my mind that I can accept all things.

Let me not whine and whimper over things I have no control over. Let me continue to see sin through God’s eyes and acknowledge it as evil. And when I sin, let me repent, and confess with my mouth my wrongdoing, and receive the forgiveness of God.

And when this world closes in on me, let me remember Jesus’ example — to slip away and find a quiet place to pray. It’s the best response when I’m pushed beyond my limits. I know that when I can’t pray, You listen to my heart. Continue to use me to do Your will.

Continue to bless me that I may be a blessing to others. Keep me strong that I may help the weak. Keep me uplifted that I may have words of encouragement for others. I pray for those who are lost and can’t find their way. I pray for those who are misjudged and misunderstood. I pray for those who don’t know You intimately. I pray for those who will delete this without sharing it with others. I pray for those who don’t believe. But I thank you that I believe.

I believe that God changes people and God changes things. I pray for all my sisters and brothers. For each and every family member in their households. I pray for peace, love and joy in their homes that they are out of debt and all their needs are met.

I pray that every eye that reads this knows there is no problem, circumstance, or situation greater than God. Every battle is in Your hands for You to fight. I pray that these words be received into the hearts of every eye that sees them and every mouth that confesses them willingly..

This is my prayer.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Posted by on July 31, 2013 in IBM


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disABILITY Information and Resources


Visit this very informative website it’s well worth it

disABILITY Information and Resources.

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Posted by on July 26, 2013 in Disability


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Dental & Doctor’s visits — What a pain

Dental & Doctor’s visits — What a pain

wheelchair dentist

Now being disabled and wheelchair bound brings its own challenges but my latest visit to my dentist and my doctor proved to be a work of transportation and maneuvering par excellence. Firstly let me explain that for the past year all transferring from wheelchair to toilet or bed has been carried out with the aid of a mobile hoist. As a result of my last fall I haven’t walked for a year or two.

Now, the doctor’s visit was the easiest as we arranged for him to carry out his investigation into my state of health at my home. So I was duly hoisted onto my bed for the inspection. Liquorice my paranoid, schizophrenic, antisocial dog took it upon herself to protect me against all comers and had to first be removed by covering her with a blanket, then rolling her up in it so that she could be carried away from the scene of the crime that this strange doctor was going to inflict on me.

Blood pressure, ears, nose and throat were all inspected and found to be in working order.  This was done with the doctor and my wife scrambling all over me and the bed to get access to the selected orifice.

Next, came the prostate inspection which made my eyes pop out on stalks and water profusely. I had never had this inspection done before and I was shocked into a near comatose state when I was numbed into sudden silent screams. You can ask any man about this inspection and I am sure that you will hear some horrific stories. Suffice to say that my doctor has a finger like a thick German sausage or Salami which was suddenly and unexpectedly inserted to do the feel test on the gland. Thus the eyes on stalks quip. Then to fill a little bottle for a urine sample —— a work of art when your arms and hands don’t work all that well. I’m not even used to weeing into hospital sized urine bottles, let alone something resembling an expensive perfume bottle.

Lastly a series of vials of blood were drawn after the nurse had searched for a vein in both of my arms and eventually resorted to draining a good portion of my life’s fluid from my hand.

A few days later I had to pay a visit to a dentist because one of my upper molars had worked itself loose and was causing considerable pain.

After spending hours on the internet fruitlessly searching for a dentist specializing in treatment of disabled patients I conceded defeat and selected a dentist from the yellow pages, whose receptionist assured my wife that they had plenty of experience with wheelchair bound patients. The dentist is on the third floor with only one elevator and a flight of steps for access. (I shudder to think what pain and suffering I would have had to endure if the lift had broken or if there was a power failure)

After negotiating narrow passages I got to the door of the surgery to find that there was a building supporting pillar or column situated right outside (opposite) the entrance door, thus cutting the passage in half. After much performance going back and forth I managed to get into the surgery. Then I faced “THE CHAIR”.

Access to the side of the chair was limited so it was decided that the dentist and his assistant would pick me up and physically transfer me to the dentist’s chair. No mean feat seeing that I weigh around 85kg. Puffing and grunting from all three of us interspersed with squeals of concern from my wife became the order of the day while they maneuvered in all directions to get me comfortable.

He looked, felt and decided to extract the tooth, between sucking in great gulps of air. His assistant was equally distraught and while he also inhaled deeply he sounded rather like an asthmatic vacuum cleaner. It sounded something like hoooooooop peep, hooooooooop peep. It was all rather hilarious but it is difficult to laugh with dental paraphernalia protruding from your mouth. So my hawr, hawr added to the hooooooop peep and the dentists gasps we probably sounded like some heavy metal band at practice.

Injections followed. If they had used laughing gas, they ran the risk of me going into hysterics. We waited for the prescribed waiting period, before yanking the offending tooth from my jaw. Fortunately by this time we had all started breathing normally.

Then the huffing and puffing performance was repeated in reverse. After much hooooping  and peeeeping I was dumped back into my wheelchair. I negotiated the problem doorway after another few back and forth movements, then into the lift, praying all the way down that the thing wouldn’t breakdown.

Needless to say that after all this carrying, pushing and pulling, my body was rather sore. I am sure that once the dentist and his assistant had recovered they would have given instructions to the receptionist to be fully booked if I should ever phone for an appointment again.

I have these episodes written indelibly on my memory and unless I develop Alzheimer‘s I will suffer in silence rather than undergo more embarrassment and physical abuse.


Posted by on July 18, 2013 in Disability, IBM


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Wheelchairs and mobility beds


Wheelchair Quotations



Hello All.Please note we will be bringing in Mobility beds as well at a later stage.mobility bed


Elderly, infirm, and temporarily bed bound patients can use it as  bed, chair or just raise the backrest to read, eat, write, do computer work or just to ease pressure points.

Price and availability on request
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Posted by on July 3, 2013 in Disability, IBM


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Disability made easier

Disability made easier

22 Tips on how to do it

wheelchair mafia

After years of experience I can still never say that I have arrived and know everything about disability or how to cope with or combat it. One thing I have learnt is that disabilities vary vastly from person to person, even if diagnosed with the same disease, disability or condition (we won’t pursue the other synonyms in this article. That is an article on its own.)

I was once told by a very wise doctor that the reason for my sudden and unexplained falling was that I was tripping over my own pride. You see pride was getting in the way of me using the numerous aids at my disposal in order to avoid these sudden mishaps. Once I overcame my pride and removed the perceived stigmas attached to these devices, I fell less often, until eventually I parked my stubborn backside in a wheelchair. Hey Presto ———– no more falling.

Some tips to help cope with disability………

* Ascertain the problem e.g. (can’t open jars or bottles etc)

* Seek the solution on the net on sites for disabled and disabled aids and equipment or get someone to open the problem container for you, then, decant the contents into manageable containers.

* Use an 8mm dowel stick approximately 1 metre or shorter in length with rubber cap on both ends (use thick rubber bands wrapped around and glued if necessary). Useful to get to light switches, TV buttons, front door bells, set alarms, stretch for papers on desks, pushing or pulling tool, backscratcher. (NO it’s too thick to serve as an ear bud for itchy ears). Anyway I was told never to put anything smaller than my elbow into my ears.

* Eating utensils too thin in the handle. Use short lengths of 12mm new garden hose to slip over the handle. Makes handle easier to hold. And can be removed for washing of both, utensil and hose. Longer lengths extend the handle for ease of access to mouth. To avoid contamination soak handle in mild bleach solution.

* Bend the front of a fork or spoon to the left or right at 45 degrees, pending if left or right handed, makes for easier self feeding.

* Use a bowl instead of a plate. You won’t have to “chase” your food around your plate so much.

* Can’t pick up cups and glasses. Use clear PVC tubing of desired diameter (similar to medical tubing used in drips etc) also used by canoeists. Available at most hardware stores. Cut to desired length (longer than conventional straws) can be easily cleaned by washing and soaking in mild bleach and water solution. (KFC also give them out with thick shakes and slushies) Can be carried in wheelchair bag.

* Wheelchair bag hanging on back of chair to carry equipment. I use a cloth bag from one of the supermarket chains. (wee bottle, eating utensils, drinking tube, change of undies, nappies if required, etc Each item in its own Ziploc bag to avoid contamination)

* A bag can also be hung under the seat behind the legs to hold things like cell phones, spectacles, tablets, medicine etc. if you can lean forward, or fit it somewhere else more suited to your requirements.

* Weights for exercising can be tins of food instead of barbells, socks filled with sand or beans to desired weight, bungee cord attached to chair or wall or door frame for neck, arm and leg exercises. I use one that was a luggage strap for my car.

* Extend your door handles with flat wood of appropriate width a length glued on with epoxy glue. The longer the handle the more leverage and less strength required. Also attach a loop of cord around handles for easier opening towards you as you reverse your chair. Vary the length to suit your needs. Cord loops are also handy for fridges, cupboards, drawers etc.    Same can be done with window handles. Push with stick pull with loop. With a lot of useful aids the aesthetics go by the board unfortunately but I’d rather struggle less than have it pretty and useless.

* Fit a thin cord or string or even fishing line through the hole at the end of difficult zips. Loop to desired length. Tuck into the top of pants when the zip is closed.

* Thread elastic of correct thickness and colour to shoes instead of shoe laces

* Men, make a small hole at back of the shoe and thread loop of strong thin cord through the hole. Tuck the thread into shoe once on. Sorry ladies nowhere to hide the thread for you. It shouldn’t irritate you if you use a wheelchair.

* Raise a comfy chair by standing it on ash or cement blocks. It’s easier to slide off the chair than get up from the lower position.

* Don’t use a kettle to heat water for tea or coffee, boil required amount in microwave. Quicker and lighter.

* When sitting in a wheelchair at a table. Try sitting at a corner with the table leg between your footrests and legs, and the point of the corner towards your stomach. You can get closer to your plate, cup or glass.

* Wrap and glue stiff paper around a favourite pen or pencil with surplus piece extending off the pen in a glued together flap. Now pinch flap between thumb and index finger and teach yourself to write all over again.

* Wear your glasses (spectacles) around your neck on a cord loop. Attach to glasses using rubber bands. Will be with you when you need them. Hands free.

* Attach a PVC pipe 50mm dia or smaller, of desired length to the side of your chair once you’ve closed the bottom, (can use any strong plastic bag or packet and glue or elastic bands to do that). Use as a “quiver” for scratching, pointing stick and other required long tools. Fix to chair with adjustable hose clamps.

* Attach a mobile alarm panic button to your chair or wear one around your neck, so that help can be summoned in case of emergency. (Telkom big button phone is ideal for hearing and sight impaired also has emergency button)

* Join disabled (or any other synonym) groups and ask questions. There are amazing people in the disabled fraternity with brilliant cheap workable ideas. Seek and you shall find. Don’t, and you will forever struggle.

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Posted by on May 9, 2013 in Disability


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Education of disabled kids in SA

I am trying to find out what the outcome of this battle was…. does anybody know?

disabled sign 2


Disabled kids’ education under the spotlight

Published in: Legalbrief Today

Date: Thu 10 June 2010

Category: In Court

Issue No: 2579




Education authorities are guilty of a ‘systemic and sustained’ breach of the rights of severely disabled children, according to papers filed in the CapeHigh Court.


The papers form the basis of a challenge by the Western Cape Forum for Intellectual Disability, which will be argued on Monday, says a report in The Citizen. The forum is asking the court to order the Western Cape provincial and the national governments to take ‘reasonable measures’ to meet the educational needs of severely disabled children.


In an affidavit, forum chairperson Fatima Shaboodien said its member NGOs cared for some 1 000 children with severe or profound intellectual disabilities. She said the state had set up and funded special schools for children with moderate to mild disability, with an IQ of 35 to 70. Children with an IQ of less than 35 were not admitted to the special schools, and the state made no direct schooling provision for them, even though their needs were greater. Instead it provided a subsidy through the department of health to NGOs that did offer schooling through special care centres. This was R425 a month per child, far less than the average subsidy of R 6107 that the province provided for children who were not intellectually disabled, at government schools. This financing was ‘wholly inadequate’, and if the children were not able to find a centre willing to accept them, they received no education at all.

Full report in The Citizen

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Posted by on April 18, 2013 in Disability


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