Disabled people sometimes find themselves treated like another species instead of the regular human beings that they are. As if the able-ism of the world didn't already work against them, disabled people must also put up with the things you do and say that make their life even more difficult. On more occasions than you might expect, they must remind strangers that "helping" them with their wheelchairs is akin to kidnapping, and your random hand signals aren't American Sign Language, just insensitive. While most people realize petting a service dog falls under the umbrella of faux-pas, they still might talk down to people with a visible disability, or even question those who have one that's not so obvious.
Yet all it takes is Google search to illustrate the amazing things disabled people are capable of; they aren't asking for your pity, or, for that matter, your gushing praise about "how brave" they are. These tales from Reddit are reminders that not everyone is in need of help, even if you have the best of intentions. If you wish to learn more, consider the work of famous disability rights activists to get an idea of how you can be a better ally for your fellow disabled citizens.
He Can Take His Chair Apart By Himself
"My father spent 44 years of his life paralyzed from the waist down. That bad ass could sit in the passenger seat of his car, take apart his chair and slide into the driver's seat while pulling all the pieces up into the passengers seat in about 30 seconds. One time my dad started his quick maneuver while in the mall parking lot and a man panicked and rushed to help him. My dad insisted that the man leave him be as it would just make things difficult and not to mention awkward. The man continued to jam the chair in the passenger seat before my dad could move over, and broke a few of his toes in the process. When someone says they don't need help, leave them alone."
Don't Yell, But Do Speak In A Deeper Voice When Addressing The Hearing Impaired
"People who are hard of hearing are unable to hear certain frequencies very well. It varies, obviously. But yelling at them is rude and doesn’t work at all. Speak normally first, then allow the person to ask for clarification. If they do, speak a tad slower and maybe with a deeper voice (usually it's higher frequencies that go first)."
Grabbing Someone's Wheelchair Without Prompting Is A Crime You're Familiar With
"A friend of a friend of mine who is wheelchair bound told us how people constantly offer to push her to her destination. And often times go to start push her along.
One person said, 'I'm helping!' as he started pushing her in her chair.
She yelled back, 'No, you're kidnapping!'
Never Assume Someone's Age Counts Against Their Disability
From an anonymous Redditor:
"I have a brain and spine disorder, and when I was nine I had a major surgery on my brain.
For the first couple of years afterwards I had a hard time standing/walking for long periods of time. My mom, being the awesome person that she is, got me an electric scooter for when we go shopping/to the mall. Well, on my first time out with it, multiple things happened which resulted in me never wanting to use it again.
•I had two cashiers and a door greeter tell me to stop playing on someone's scooter, and even stopped me and told me to get up.
•This one lady stopped, began crying, and hugged me into her arms and wouldn't stop talking about how I was so 'brave' and so 'strong.'
•Multiple older people in their own scooters giving me dirty looks, and one even saying that I shouldn't be mocking them.
These may seem petty, but it was really a turn off for me to ever want to use it again."