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Results: Top 10 Things that annoy people using wheelchairs

Last post 06-22-2010, 2:56 PM by lmackos. 46 replies.
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  •  05-06-2010, 5:52 AM 71107

    Results: Top 10 Things that annoy people using wheelchairs

    Do you know what really irks people who use wheelchairs? Following up on a lively discussion in our community here, we ran a poll to find out.

    Here's the official list of the Top 10 Things that Annoy People who use Wheelchairs:
    1. Able-bodied people parking in accessible parking spaces 37%
    Able-bodied people parking in accessible parking spaces
    2. Accessible bathroom stalls being used by an able-bodied person 12%
    3. Talking over my head as if I'm not here 9%
    4. Continuing to insist on helping me after I've said no thanks 8.3%
    5. Congratulating me for things like going to the grocery store like it's worthy of an Olympic medal 6.1%
    6. Strangers asking what happened to me 5.7%
    7. Not inviting me to an event because you are protecting me from some frustration (let me figure it out) 5.3%
    8. Patting me on my head. Don't. 5.0%
    9. Holding on to the back of my chair so I can't move 4.4%
    10. Speaking slowly to me because I'm in a wheelchair 3.5%

    Now that we have the Top Ten List, we just have to get people who are behaving badly to cut it out!

    We are sharing these results far and wide this week to raise awareness and help start a conversation. I hope you will join us in this effort.

    If you're using a wheelchair, tell us how you deal with rude behavior -- do you try to ignore it, correct the person nicely but firmly, make a joke?

    And if you're not using a wheelchair, how would you deal with a friend who misbehaved while you were out together -- apologize for your friend, let it go but bring it up later, or ignore it, and try to display better manners in the hopes that your friend would learn from it?

    Give us your thoughts on how to make life less annoying for people who use wheelchairs. We will create a follow up list with some of the best ideas for educating the rude and ignorant individuals among us.

    Help us spread the word and get others to join in, please:

    Like us on Facebook Like the Reeve Foundation. Follow us on Twitter Follow the Reeve Foundation.
    YouTube Subscribe to the Reeve Foundation on YouTube.
    Reeve Foundation Paralysis Community Join our Reeve Foundation Paralysis Community.


    Rob Gerth
    Director Digital Media
    Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
    (800) 225-0292 ext. 7123
    "Nothing good is a miracle, nothing lovely is a dream."

    Follow us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/reevefoundation
  •  05-06-2010, 11:25 AM 71122 in reply to 71107

    Re: Results: Top 10 Things that annoy people using wheelchairs

    People assuming that my husband is able bodied because he can stand and walk if very wobbly annoys me. He is legally disabled and requires to be parked close to the store front, even if he doesn't get out and go in the store. For that matter, there are a lot of people who are "able bodied" without the obvious "signs" of disablility who need to be parked in the designated areas.
    I guess my thought for the day is, assume NOTHING and expect everything!!
    :D
  •  05-06-2010, 1:20 PM 71123 in reply to 71122

    Re: Results: Top 10 Things that annoy people using wheelchairs

    I am ablebodied but fat challenged, weighing over 200 pounds. Obviously, people who build bathroom stalls are a lot skinnier than I am, or they wouldn't make them so SMALL. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get in and out of most regular bathroom stalls, particularly without brushing your clothes over some very dirty surfaces. I would never use a wheelchair stall if someone in a wheelchair was present, or at least not until she was done with the stall. Someone needs to tell American builders to make more wheelchair stalls, or larger stalls, or both.
  •  05-06-2010, 1:40 PM 71124 in reply to 71107

    Re: Results: Top 10 Things that annoy people using wheelchairs

    I would like to address a couple of issues with the first two of the top ten list. First, there are many different disabilities, some are physical some are not. Just because a person isn't a wheelchair user doesn't mean they don't have a disability in which an accessible parking space or bathroom stall should be "off-limits". A person may have a mobility impairment which limits how far they can walk, or have you seen how small most regular bathroom stalls are? For anyone who doesn't fit the average mold, those stalls are difficult if not impossible to get in and out of if you are a larger person. Does every accessible space mean accessible for wheelchair users only? I feel there is a bit of discrimination when it comes to the disability community. Do wheelchair users ever consider there are others with disabilities who need those accessible accomodations who don't use wheelchairs? If a wheelchair user comes into a bathroom that has the accessible stall occupied, why can't they wait until it's available like anyone else would while waiting for a stall? Is it wrong for me to use the elevator when there are stairs?

     

    People can be disabled, and not use a wheelchair, but still need the accomodations of accessible parking and bathroom stalls. It seems as if there is a self-centric world among wheelchair users, that all the accessible modifications and accomodations should be just only for them and not others with disabilities. Granted, I don't think it's right for someone who doesn't need to use accessible accomodations, but is considered disabled, should utilize accessible parking spaces and bathroom stalls just because they have a disability. Just some food for thought, there are other disabilities out there besides ones that wheelchair users deal with. People are quick to pass judgement and assume someone isn't disabled just because they aren't in a wheelchair.

     

    "We will create a follow up list with some of the best ideas for educating the rude and ignorant individuals among us."

     

    People in wheelchairs can also be rude and ignorant. Lets not exclude wheelchair users from having attitudes as well, they are human too after all.

  •  05-06-2010, 1:54 PM 71125 in reply to 71107

    Re: Results: Top 10 Things that annoy people using wheelchairs

    I fell at work 3 years ago and sustained a central spinal cord injury. I was in a wheelchair at home for a few months. With the grace of God, my wife and some very wonderful P/T's I have regained most of my mobility. My legs are still weak & I have balance issue's. I have a handicap sticker for my truck. That doesn't mean I have to park in a handicap spot all the time. When the weather is ok I will try to park in a regular spot so some one with a bigger problem can have that spot.
  •  05-06-2010, 2:06 PM 71126 in reply to 71107

    Re: Results: Top 10 Things that annoy people using wheelchairs

    This is one of the issues that's confusing for those of us who are NOT in wheelchairs. DO I or DON'T I? Whether the person is someone we care for or a stranger there is often the dilemma of what they'd prefer us to do.

    O.K. I know patting the person on their head isn't an option, but an affectionate touch may have been the point and become misinterpreted by the receiver because it was done awkwardly. Celebrating the effort of going to the store may seem important to a family member or friend who knows that simple task signifies overcoming many monumental difficulties. We may just trying to give "kudos" and it's just not your day to receive them.

    Items 3,4 and 10 may be the result of ignorance combined with people who want to help. It's difficult to constantly be in the position of "educating the public", but it's the situation many wheelchair users are in. You are the perfect ones to teach the public learn that not all those in chairs are hard of hearing elderly people with dementia in nursing homes. Item 9 is simply rude, it's not a funny joke, grow up.

    You're right about inviting you to events, we should let you decide for yourselves. That's hard for us who care about you to do sometimes because we know you won't be able to go because it's really, really not accessible at all. Or it's going to be too hot, or too cold, or too something. We've heard the things that have bothered you before and we decide to not even bring it up so that we don't make you feel left out or like there's one more thing you "can't do". We do it out of caring and love, so give us a break. Then talk to us about what you would prefer us to do.

    We shouldn't ask a total stranger we've just seen "what happened", but at some point in the conversation that question will come up. Kids are going to ask in a very candid way. Your chair makes you different and we want to know why and learn about you. I learned tons about SCI from people willing to share their experiences with me when I asked, and it made our family's journey so much easier.

    And about handicapped parking spaces. The person who posted before me had a really good point - it's not only wheelchair people who need to park in a handicapped space. I have many friends with MS, ALS and other neuro disorders who do not yet have chairs but do need to use handicapped spaces for parking. I don't like people who park in those spaces who are caregivers, and have the special tags on the vehicle, but do not have the person who the tag is for with them at the time. Now THAT really gripes me!

    Lastly, the sacred bathroom stalls. Accessible bathrooms are accessible, not reserved spaces, so wait your turn. (I know, I'll catch it for this opinion). But your bladder is no smaller or bigger than mine, and the space was made to accommodate your chair, not give you the right to go to the front of the line. My Mom is a quad, so it's not like I don't care. I have Interstitial Cystitis and have to "go", frequently and often, and if I can't or don't it hurts - A LOT - so if ANY stall is open I'm using it, sometimes even in the men's room. You have a catheter, a bag to be emptied, emergency changes that need to be made. I get that. BUT there are others out there that need the toilet urgently too, and just because they are not in a wheelchair does not mean they should not use the accessible stall.

    There are kind people, people who educate, people who are cranky, people who are too helpful, people who are oblivious, rude people, jerks, people who are answers sent by God, people who make you laugh, people who you want to run down with your chair. If we keep sharing thoughts with each other we'll be better at living with each other.

    I'm just saying. Can't we all get along?
  •  05-06-2010, 3:46 PM 71127 in reply to 71107

    Re: Results: Top 10 Things that annoy people using wheelchairs

    I've encountered most of these, and I've pretty much gotten used to them.  However, that certainly does not mean I condone them.  When someone does something I find offensive, I tell the person exactly why it is unacceptable and ask them not to do it again.  Most people understand and apologize, but there are always going to be some hard-headed people who continue with such behavior.  If someone repeatedly offends me after multiple warnings, I may break ties with the person.

    Some of the items on the list, in my opinion, should be combined into a category I call 'assuming I am mentally disabled just because I am physically disabled.'  This is probably what happens to me the most.  People will often speak slowly, use very basic language, insist on helping me with even basic tasks, and do a variety of other things that indicate they think I lack the mental capabilities to get through everyday life.  Fortunately, once they find out I have a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice, along with a 140 IQ, they stop this ridiculous behavior.  However, I still confront those people about the behavior because it is disrespectful of mentally disabled people.  I simply will not stand for those who offend others with stupid remarks and offensive behaviors.
  •  05-06-2010, 5:34 PM 71129 in reply to 71107

    Re: Results: Top 10 Things that annoy people using wheelchairs

    Wow, you people are amazing, you are actually on the Christopher Reeve website complaining about people who use wheelchairs. Do you have no shame?

    You think that "a lot of people who are able-bodied" need to park in handicap designated parking space or even though you have the ability to use a regular stall think it's okay to use the accessible stall because it's more convenient for you and then justify that by actually saying they are "not reserved spaces".

    You want to know what bothers me... people that spend all their time trying to justify why they're disabled and need to use an accessible feature. The ADA defines who qualifies as disabled with "you must be SUBSTANTIALLY limited in one or more MAJOR life activities". I don't think brushing your clothes against the side of a bathroom stall qualifies.

    "I would never use a wheelchair stall if someone in a wheelchair was present", do you use that logic with handicap parking also?

    "I have a handicapped sticker... That doesn't mean I have to park in a handicap spot all the time. When the weather is ok I will try to park in a regular spot so someone with a bigger problem can have that spot." Is someone's bigger problem somehow diminished compared to yours in inclement weather?

    "I have many friends with MS... who do not yet have chairs but do need to use handicap spaces for parking." Montel Williams has MS and says he's disabled but he also has workout videos and on his TV show set runs up and down stairs and all over the set. Because he has MS but doesn't need a chair yet does that mean he gets to use handicap parking?

    "... Your bladder is no smaller or bigger than mine". These are the kind of statements that show how people will make up their own information regardless of their ignorance on the subject. I'm a C3/C4 [complete] quadriplegic, my bladder is about the size of a walnut. I can back that up medically, can you back up your statement you presented as a fact?

    "... There is a self centric world among wheelchair users". "People in wheelchairs can also be rude and ignorant." I don't even know what to say about you...
  •  05-06-2010, 10:02 PM 71132 in reply to 71107

    Re: Results: Top 10 Things that annoy people using wheelchairs

    Wow, the "self centric world" of wheelchair users....This is a new one for me. I am a United States Marine paralyzed in the line of duty. I am neither unaware or uncompassionate to the difficulties of my fellow human beings with various disabilities. Nor do I view my self as "self centric". The ultimate solution is awareness and greater understanding through education as the Reeve Foundation demonstrates on a daily basis. This is a community that should be united and supportive of one another, rather than playing the 'my disability is worse than your's' game. I have suffered my share of indignities as I know many of you have also. I too am annoyed with the parking space issues, especially in the winter. My mother came up with a great solution. If she is absolutly sure the person doesn't need the space (ie jumping out and running into the bank or grocer), she slips a little card under the wiper blade. The card reads..I know you are only going to be a minute, that is 60 seconds to long for someone that NEEDS this space.
  •  05-06-2010, 10:35 PM 71134 in reply to 71107

    Re: Results: Top 10 Things that annoy people using wheelchairs

    I have a few to add to that list:
    1. Business owners that get away with "Grandfather Clauses".
    2. Inadequate ADA guidelines on bathroom stalls.
    3. Handicapped parking spots marked "Van Accessible" that aren't Van Accessible. Uh, yeah, the hashes belong on the PASSENGER side and DO have to be wide enough for a ramp!
    4. They don't have special handicapped parking spots for people that need extra space vs those that don't and just can't walk far.
    5. No handicapped bathrooms on airline flights/Your wheelchair is kept with luggage so you can't get there anyway.
    6. Having to sit in "BFE" in arenas because that's just where the handicapped seating is. Not so much the case with NEWER arenas/auditoriums.
    7. It's illegal to double-park even though you have a handicapped parking placard. It would be soo nice for, well, see YOUR #1.
    8. Metered handicapped parking. Hey, I've seen it in Nevada, around LAS airport. I thought a handicapped placard permitted you to park in a metered zone without paying. Maybe only in California?
  •  05-07-2010, 6:15 AM 71138 in reply to 71107

    Re: Results: Top 10 Things that annoy people using wheelchairs

    I first want to point out one thing. This was a poll about what annoys wheelchair users....not what annoys you about wheelchair users.

    My husband is a C-6/C-7 quad and our #1 complaint is this: How society views people that are disabled.

    We do a lot to try to get others to understand that a disability or wheelchair doesn't make you any different. Yet, to come onto a website for an organization that has done SO much to fight for a cure for paralysis and to read all the negativity and ignorance, is so sad to me. How do you expect people to treat you with respect and the same dignity of someone who is not disabled, when you can't even treat others in your same situation that way????

    I hope that one day there is a cure for paralysis and that is why we support this amazing foundation, but in the the mean time, we have to start changing people's views about the disabled. My husband is no different than he was before his injury, yet he is looked at with pity. Pity by others who think his life is over. THIS IS INSANE. We have the most incredible life and people need to stop taking for granted what they do have. My husband has an amazing family, friends, he owns his own company, he built our house, he still has his LIFE, and isn't that more important than dwelling on the fact he uses a wheelchair to get around. He wants no sympathy and neither should you.

    My problem with the list is concerning when people ask you what happened...what is wrong with that? I would rather have someone ask than to stare. The only way to inform those who don't know about paralysis is by talking. We cannot call it ignorance because someone just doesn't know. I had NO knowledge of paralysis until I met my husband and it was because he was so open about it and NOT NEGATIVE that we ended up talking for hours and falling in love.

    I will pass on this one last thing.

    My husband always asks anyone he comes in contact with "How are you doing?" with a smile on his face....it is amazing what being happy and positive can do for your life.

  •  05-07-2010, 9:43 AM 71147 in reply to 71129

    Re: Results: Top 10 Things that annoy people using wheelchairs

    There is a self centric world among wheelchair users". "People in wheelchairs can also be rude and ignorant." I don't even know what to say about you...

    I work in the disability industry, and you are passing judgement without really hearing what is being said. No one is being disrespectful with voicing their opinions. I am on this site because I want to learn more about disabilities. However, in my experience, and in reading the poll, there is a certain world view that comes with certain disabilities. This crosses all disabilties, and to say a sector of that community is "self centric" isn't a put-down. We are all self centric in ways, I was just trying to point out that there are differing opinions out there about accessibility accomodations and that access isn't just meant for wheelchair users, but your hostile argument would say differently. There is ignorance and rudeness in all walks of society, to think that anyone who is a wheelchair user is just all good and rosey and always has a pleasant personality is non-sense.

     

    The concernI have is this "we want to be inclusive and be treated as equally as others who are not disabled." I agree with that, and I encourage anyone who feels they aren't to become more active in that inclusiveness, but at the same time I hear exclusivity when it comes to the issues we have been discussing here. I only take issue with the first two and most rated poll topics, the rest I agree are very annoying and demeaning. I just wanted to point out that some accessible accomodations are necessary for others who's disabilities may be different from those who utilize a wheelchair.

    No disrespect meant or intended by any means.

  •  05-07-2010, 11:35 AM 71153 in reply to 71107

    Re: Results: Top 10 Things that annoy people using wheelchairs

    I got this via email from Ken:

    While I do NOT have any real grievance with the way ANYONE treats me in the wheelchair or scooter or walker ...in fact quite the reverse, I do have a problem with the number of violators of the parking spaces ..... Apparently my vote was one of the majority in this survey. I am greatly appreciative of the friendly courtesies given me by nearly every one I encounter . There are some establishments however that do not provide the handicapped conveniences that I think are most helpful like door openers where the doors are especially heavy and difficult to open and close , especially in public restroom entrances or main entry/ exit doors to a facility. Strangely enough these seem to exist in many medical facilities. FYI

    Thanks Ken. Great stuff.


    Rob Gerth
    Director Digital Media
    Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
    (800) 225-0292 ext. 7123
    "Nothing good is a miracle, nothing lovely is a dream."

    Follow us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/reevefoundation
  •  05-07-2010, 1:38 PM 71155 in reply to 71107

    Re: Results: Top 10 Things that annoy people using wheelchairs

    The biggest thing that irks me is that I can use a rolling walker with the help of leg braces indoors, but I have to use a wheelchair outdoors. People all the time are asking me if I am better or cured of spastic paraparesis and my SCI. Most of the time I try to ignore these comments, but it does get on your nerves sometimes.
    Another thing that most everyone in a manual wheelchair will agree with is strangers insisting on pushing your wheelchair, even though you can do it easily by yourself. I once had someone grab the back of my chair without me knowing it and start to push me down the street. I repeatedly told him to let go, and when that didn't work, I suddenly stoped my chair and sharply pushed my tires back so the back bar of my rigid-frame chair would hit him. It worked and he let go, but cussed me out as he was walking away.
  •  05-07-2010, 1:47 PM 71156 in reply to 71153

    Re: Results: Top 10 Things that annoy people using wheelchairs

    Looks like the survey opened a can of worms.  Lets make this a moment to educate and inform.

    RickC3/4 was saying that when he can walk, ie. "good weather, etc. he does walk.  In snow etc, he is in the same situation as a wheeler, he can not make it into a building without the spot

    Point 2, many folks with SCI do not have normal sized bladders, some are indeed the size of a walnut.  Others with neurogenic bladders may be able to empty their bladder the "normal way" but by the time they realize can tell they have to go--its too late and a big rush.  Also, not everyone uses catheters or urine bags. Many with SCI have spastic bladders and without warning, you are standing in a puddle.  Never have I pushed my way to the front of the line, but if an accessible stall opens, and there are 3 people in front of me, I politely as if I can go ahead as I need the bars.  And yes, I use an assistive device to walk.

    Point 3, with improved therapies, there are many walking quads and paras, we don't all use chairs.  I can not however stand independently so I need the bars in an accessible stall. I also can not stand for more than 3 minutes without a wall, counter, etc.  There are lots of folks with similar injuries.

    Point 4, wheelchair users are not the only folks who need accessible parking, toilet stalls etc. They know that as do their counterparts, the folks with SCI/paralysis who walk.

    Final point, maybe our next survey needs to be more inclusive---not just wheelers but all folks with paralysis?

    Great to see a discussion going on but please, no personal attacks or put downs. This is a good opportunity for us to learn from each other.

    Thank you,

    Every day I wake up is a good one.
    phf 59-08
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