Wheelchair users already deal with hardship, and they want to tell you how to make life easier for them. When it comes to wheelchair etiquette, most WC users' biggest grievances come from your lack of understanding of the subject of disabilities. What wheelchair users want you to know are the proper courtesies you should take not only when in the presence of a WC user, but even when they're not around. You may not realize how your actions affect those in a wheelchair, and sometimes your attempts at "helping" a disabled person are actually less than helpful.
Reddit wheelchair users described the most annoying things people do to or around them, many of which you might not recognize. For example, you already know you shouldn't spit your gum on the sidewalk, but have you ever thought about what happens to a WC user who rolls through it? Yeah, probably not.
A Few Ground Rules
"My mother was in a wheelchair for the first 13 years of my life, but she passed away 10 years back. This is stuff she told me that annoyed her:
• No matter your age, from age 1 to 81, don't stare. Trust me, this is not the last person in a wheelchair you'll see.
• Don't instantly assume that there is a correlation between intelligence and the reason for being in a chair. My dad used to be the one salespeople would talk to, and he'd have to direct them down to my mother.
• Likewise, don't instantly assume you have to yell, or talk more clearly, as if they're deaf. The chances are pretty high that they're fine.
• A lot of people in wheelchairs have a sense of humour as a way to cope. However, you shouldn't make the same jokes. It's sort of like the 'n' word.
• Don't push people without permission: if they want help, they'll ask.
• Please, gain spatial awareness, for everyone's sake, not just those folks in wheelchairs.
• Be mindful of disposing of things like gum.
Be Mindful Where You Spit
"Don't spit on the sidewalk you assh*le! Wheels touch the sidewalk and pick up your spit, then it ends up all over someone's hands or gloves when they push the wheels."
They Are Not Helpless
"If you see someone in a WC doing something themselves and they have a person there who is not helping, that non-helper is not an assh*le and the WC user does not need help. I have had more than one instance where I was with my dad and he was putting his chair in the car (he prefers to do it himself) and people have given me the look of death and then asked him if he needed any help."
Don't Push It
"Don't push my wheelchair unless I ask you or give you permission."