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How To Talk to People Who Are In Wheelchairs

(This post was first published August 2nd of last year, when few people were following me. I thought I would repost and update it today, with a picture.)

One of the things I notice when I am in my #wheelchair  is that many adults have difficulty knowing exactly what to say or how to act with someone who is in a wheelchair. Sometimes I notice inadvertent, side-glances; people who don't glance directly at me, but will furtively look at me and then look away, as though they're afraid of being caught staring.

I think that it is important to note that while you may be curious, some good general tips are as follows.  

Tip 1. If you are curious and want to look at my wheelchair, please openly look at me, as you would look at any other able-bodied adult, and make eye contact. This is much less hurtful to me than when people pretend to be looking at something else while sneaking side-glances at me and my wheelchair.

I think I know why they do this; it is an ingrained cultural concept that we should not stare at others who are different. However, doing that kind of thing makes me feel like I am some kind of bizarre person, and increases my feeling of isolation.

People often have a natural desire to look at a wheelchair. It's ok. A wheelchair is something out of the ordinary. However, it is immensely more painful to me if you give me a couple of sidelong glances and then move on without ever saying hello or acknowledging me. You don't have to talk to me, but please do nod or smile as you would do to a normal person. It restores my feeling of humanity and equality.

Tip 2. If you have questions, ask, in a polite and respectful manner. I am usually very happy to answer questions about my condition or why I am in a wheelchair. I know I make people curious, especially because I am young. Many people don't understand my disease, lupus, and want to know why I am in a wheelchair, especially when I don't have a visible cast or broken bone. Politely asking is not offensive; ignoring and staring covertly is.

Tip 3. If you have small children, and they ask you something like, "Mamma, why is that girl in a wheelchair?" The best way to respond is probably to say something like "I don't know; let's ask her." I have heard parents hush children up with a "Stop it, that question isn't appropriate," or they may say, "We don't ask people those sorts of things. It's rude." Children have a natural curiosity about the way the world functions. They want to know. And by allowing them to approach and talk to me, you are increasing their tolerance and acceptance for people with disabilities. Plus, the majority of people in wheelchairs are happy to interact with curious children. They ask the questions that the majority of adults are thinking, but are afraid to ask.

Tip 4. When talking to me, don't feel you need to kneel down or get on my level to talk with me face to face. While I understand that some people do that, thinking that it allows them to better make eye contact with me, but on the whole, it comes across as condescending. I know I'm in a wheelchair and I know that you're going to be looking down at me. Although I am 5'11'' when I stand up, in the wheelchair, I'm very short. And that's ok. Just talk to me as you'd talk to me if I stood up and was facing you. We're still on the same conversational level even if you tower above me. At the same time, don't hug a wheelchair user if you're just meeting them for the same time, unless you would hug a casual acquaintance in the same situation; make sure to treat those in a wheelchair with the same respect for physical distance you'd treat those who were able bodied. 

Tip 5. Offering help to a wheelchair user in obvious distress is ok.  For example, yesterday my motorized wheelchair went slightly off the road and got stuck in a patch of mud; I couldn't get it out of the mud without someone's help. Sometimes people walk on by, and look sympathetic, but aren't sure what to say for fear of offense. A kind, "can I help you?" or "Can I be of any assistance?" can sometimes be greatly appreciated. At the same time, if the wheelchair user says 'no, I'm fine," it's best to respect his/her preference. 

Tip 6. Not everyone in a wheelchair is paralyzed. But people usually assume that is why you would use one. Illness and frailty often make wheelchair use necessary, and it can be just as necessary as for those who cannot move their limbs at all. The reason I use a wheelchair is because of a neurocardiogenic syncopy issue, which is a miscommunication between my brain and my heart. I pass out when I stand for periods of time which can be as short as 30 seconds long. I know this is difficult to understand, but think of it in terms of computers: I blue-screen if I stand too long. 

Tip 7. Dogs sometimes freak out when they see people in wheelchairs. Even normally well behaved dogs. This is due to the fact that dogs' minds don't work like our own; they don't see a person sitting in a chair with wheels; they see a strange creature, half human, half wheelchair hybrid. So be prepared that your normally calm dog who's not used to seeing wheelchairs may turn suddenly upset when they see a person using one. Steady, calm your dog, and rein them in. It's not a training failure on your part; it's natural dog behavior and a part of how they perceive the world. If your dog will regularly come into contact with people who are in wheelchairs (for example, a neighbor or relative) it would be wise to train them to get used to a wheelchair. They see the world differently than we do. My dog, Sirius, is fully trained to adjust to the wheelchair. I've attached a picture of him and me interacting while I use my motorized wheelchair. 

If you have further questions about this, feel free to leave them in the comments- or reshare. I'm sure other folk who live and work in wheelchairs may have other feedback to add. The point I'm trying to express is etiquette; and these are the thoughts that often go through my mind when navigating stores, museums, or when I'm out in public. 

BTW, I am not, and cannot be a spokesperson for all wheelchair users. We are all unique and we all have our own preferences, as do all individuals. These are some generalities, and some are specific to me, but some other people who use wheelchairs or who are disabled may feel differently. This is why it is important to ask each person how they feel and what they would prefer. 

The reason I speak up with these tips is because I suspect a majority of them are across the board true for many disabled populations; we often get ignored rather than asked what we would like, because people are many times afraid to speak to us openly. Don't be afraid of offense. Discussing disability increases understanding and tolerance. 

#advocacy   #awareness  
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464 comments
 
:-) Sigh. . . . . sad that you have to explain these things to people.
 
+M Monica I've talked to a lot of people with disabilities including my wife over the years, but this is one of the best and most comprehensive takes on something that can be very uncomfortable for everyone.  Well done!
 
i treat em as an equal, i know many folk feel intimidated tho x ur a star
 
don't talk just pray god for his recovery 
M Monica
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It's ok; I have thick skin, +Will Payne. That's why I wrote this post, to educate people as to proper behavior when they encounter a wheelchair user. It is different, something out of the ordinary. But we need to counter that with efforts to educate, and this post is one of those efforts. 
 
+M Monica Thanks for sharing this! Very helpful perspective to read. (your perspective)
M Monica
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+Niraj Awasthi, I appreciate any good thoughts you care to send my way, but I also ask that you embrace tolerance on this thread, and understand that your own religious preferences are not embraced by all. It's kind of you to be compassionate. 
 
I talk to people in wheelchairs... like they were people. Because they are. People with disabilities should only be treated as differently as their disability might, in some cases, require (for example, obviously I'm not going to expect a person in a wheelchair to go up a flight of stairs).
Translate
 
Very good guidelines.  Regards #4, a friend who uses a wheelchair suggested that people maintain at least several feet of space, if possible, when speaking with him.  He said it made it less awkward than having to crane head back--think first row in the movie theater.  

Does that make sense/seem right?
 
Respect. You allowed me to learn something today and I will take your advice, Thank you for sharing.
 
Thank you for this! I found it extraordinarily informative.
 
great read. Thanks for sharing again as I just noticed the chair last week.
 
+M Monica you look beautiful, really that's not out of being nice. another thing you should publish what u have written up, somewhere where people who r not g+ fans can read I mean that will really help in changing behavior of people(who think they are normal) towards those who seem to them different. 
 
Nice, when I smoked I always made a point of asking any fellow smoker in a wheelchair if they had a light, ,even if I had one, just to strike up a conversation. My GF thought it was weird but I thought I did it for the right reasons.
 
Thank you Monica. Can I use this in my teaching moments at Church? Or in our monthly Newsletter? Credit is yours of Course.
 
Thanks a lot for posting that +M Monica, I think a lot of people feel awkward about the whole thing, not wanting to be rude or offensive but not knowing what might be taken as rude or offensive.
 
That was great; thanks for sharing. I will try to remember not to get down to eye-level, but being trained as a teacher for years to "get at your fellow human being's level so as not to lord over them" it may be the hardest habit to break.
 
My first thought when I looked at your picture? Whow, she looks gorgeous, and what a nice dog she has! Don't let stupid people spoil your life, keep on fighting for your rights!
 
+Paul Young Yes- your friend's point is probably very valid for his own preferences. Each wheelchair user should be asked about what they prefer.

I am not, and cannot be a spokesperson for all wheelchair users. We are all unique and we all have our own perferences. These are some generalities, and some are specific to me, but some other people who use wheelchairs or who are disabled may feel differently.

The reason I speak up with these tips is because I suspect a majority of them are across the board true for many disabled populations; we often get ignored rather than asked what we would like, because people are many times afraid to speak to us openly. 

It's never offensive to ask so long as you ask openly and clearly without intent to offend. Sure, sometimes we are having off days (who doesn't?) But it's better to ask than ignore. 
 
Excellent read.  Your point about asking questions regarding peoples differences "being rude" according to some people struck home with me.  I find that I sometimes do this, I am going to have to actively work on that. 
 
A couple times when I've seen someone using a particularly complex wheelchair, such as those that can steer on a dime by having the wheels rotate in opposite directions, I've asked how it works. The amount of enhanced mobility that technology is bringing to the world is astonishing at times.
 
Thanks so much +M Monica . I must admit in the past I've crouched down to speak to people in wheelchairs. Also, if they appeared to be in distress and said they were fine, I would still help out. Thanks for pointing out such things. 
 
+M Monica, I would never have thought you were 5'11. Gosh! You look so petite, especially in your gorgeous profile photo.
 
My 3-year-old I ride in a lot of elevators in subway stations, frequently with folks in wheelchairs. We talk to them a lot, just about normal stuff. One guy recently told my daughter, "I ride in a wheelchair because I had an owie." She totally got it. <3
 
+M Monica I have a question....if I'm about to enter a building, and I see someone behind me about to enter as well, I always hold the door open, whether the next person is in a wheelchair or not.  I've held a door open for someone with a wheelchair before, and a friend of mine has told me that it isn't polite to "assume" the person in a wheelchair wanted or needed my help.  My mind wasn't there at all, I'd do it for anyone.  What are your thoughts? Speaking as a woman, I don't get offended when a man holds a door open for me, but I'm thankful for it!  I know some women are offended by this seemingly "sexist" act...but I think that's a little ridiculous.  Is it assumed that I'm being demeaning to someone in a wheelchair when I hold a door open for them?
 
A great list, thanks for posting it. One small addition, in my experience #3 doesn't just apply to kids. I've had adults ask my friends/family why I'm in the chair and I've even had them do so in my presence (making me feel like a child). 
 
hey buddy, i can able to read Ur feelings........ nice text work.,
 
+M Monica, I really appreciate this post. I think I more or less always follow them. I have one question though. How robust how your tips? Ie in your experience (and anyone else's reading this) do these tips hold for most people in wheelchairs? Are there some people who might actually disagree with you and find a kid asking 'what's wrong with that lady' quite rude?

Thanks again for the post and please do give your dog a pat from me :)
 
My dog barks to anything with rubber wheels. She doesn't care if it has a baby, a child or an adult, when they stop moving she stops barking. She really don't like the sound of those toy cars (much less lectric ones) she had gotten me in trouble when she barks at mothers taking babies out for a walk.

Besides that I entirely understand your post, I just can't understand why people should speak differently to anyone else with a physical problem (any problem), they don't stop being human beings because of that... oh well some day humans will grow up.
 
Thank you , the piece about children is spot on. I'll think about this when the ( and I know it will) situation arises. 
 
I would have just said like any other person.
 
Plus 100 and reshare! This is the best post I've read on Google+.
 
Great write up, thanks for posting it again.
 
+M Monica Sorry. And thank you for correcting my preconceived notion. 
 
Monica!  What a wonderful, thoughtful post.  When my late wife was in a wheel chair for the last several years of her life, people would speak more loudly and slowly as if her physical aliments were also mental ailments.  A C.P.A. and former child actress, runway model and at 5'11" before illness, the condescension and patronization was difficult. 
Well done and thank you.
 
Thanks, Monica :) This was very helpful! 
 
It's interesting to read but sad that you had to write it in the first place....And by that I don't mean it's sad that you sit in a wheelchair but rather that it's sad that people make a difference. As you said. Children have a natural curiosity and if everyone would keep that and just be openminded the whole post would be unnecessary.
 
+Vincent Knight, if you know a specific wheelchair user, I would advise you ask for personal preferences. I am not, and cannot be a spokesperson for all wheelchair users. We are all unique and we all have our own preferences, as do all individuals. These are some generalities I put in the post. Some are specific to me, but some other people who use wheelchairs or who are disabled may feel differently. This is why it is important to ask each person how they feel and what they would prefer. 

The reason I speak up with these tips is because I suspect a majority of them are across the board true for many disabled populations; we often get ignored rather than asked what we would like, because people are many times afraid to speak to us openly. 

I edited the post to put this in there, btw. 
 
I think it basically comes down to treating everyone like an individual. If someone needs help offer to help (whether or not they're in a chair). Really nice post and very refreshing to read. :)
 
That's great! People often don't ask these things so thanks for sharing.
 
If I see an attractive woman in a wheelchair I might want to say hi or flirt with her but I usually chicken out.  For some reason, even I don't understand, I can't help but think she'll think I'm trying to take advantage and so I just don't say anything. Probably something to do with how I was raised (like so many things).  I think this is kind of related to the topic at hand.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not proud of it and I realize it is most likely highly irrational and wrong-headed but it still happens.
 
I particularly like the tip about dogs.  I've had several dogs who had different reactions to wheelchair users.  One very fear/aggressive dog had to be steered away from any person with any visible disability, he would just freak.  He was a rescue with many personality problems.  Didn't get any better with age, either (shrugs).
 
Well written article by a beautiful lady with a handsome pup. Thank you! =)
 
I am a person too and i am glad that you like me have to show others that we are not unable to do things god just gave use a different way of going throw life.the rest of the world just has to wake up and give us a brake and not put barries in our way so we can go no with life.
 
Thank you for the post, it has been most beneficial.
Dan J
 
Very great advise +M Monica I do wonder though, Do you ever have people like myself just walk up and just talk to you without asking about these things? Treat you like a normal person rather than a person bound in a wheelchair?
If so, Does it help you at all when they do?
I like to know things like can you pop a wheelie in it? That would make a cool photo.
Thing is you are Human. I can't for the life of me figure out why so many can't just realize that.
I have much respect for you personally. And not because you have to use it. But, because you do have to deal with all the strange people.
That's a strong heart. People should be stopping just a meet you.
 
Parents admonishing curious children to "Don't stare" is where much of the damage starts. Parents need to deal with it. Thanks for this post :)
 
Hi Monica! I think it's pretty common for people to be a bit apprehensive about interacting with people with disabilities, not knowing the person compounds it but this was a really good read, hope you are feeling well. 
Saul æ
 
Very educational post, I'm pretty sure i have done some of those things before, thanks for enlightening me!
 
M. nice of you to give us this list, people that don't have a disable person at home or between their close relatives, really have no clue on how to beheave.
Good important point about the kids with parents (kids by themself act as everyone should, showing their curiosity, or simply ignoring the chair and seeing mainly the driver)
 
Really you have posted a good and new intresting topic and your tips are from heart
 
I always have the same question when I see someone in a wheelchair. Can we make it go faster? Of course, I'm glutton for speed.
 
My father spent later part of his life (he had a stroke in his early thirties but recovered somewhat for the next twenty years) in a wheelchair. He was a brilliant man hampered by a defective body and often would correct people who treated him as someone to be pitied or as a dolt because he was in a wheelchair. "Illegitimi non carborundum", he often said, "Don't let the b@#$ds wear you down!". (That came partly from his education and partly from his childhood in Brooklyn,) 
 
+Corey Whalen yes, it can go really fast! When I go maximum speed people have to run to catch up to me. I enjoy that setting. :)
 
I have MS andfribromyalga andCOPD but i walk with a walker and i do have a weelchair for my bad days and i can not do it i wish , i but you on my friend list ok so i will post on and on thanks.
Dave L
 
My friend tell me it's ok to pay compliment about his chair if its an obvious custom chair with tricked out accessories, as chairs are like sneakers: he wants to be noticed.
 
Bless you and yours, Monica!
 
I particularly like Tip 3. and 7, about children and dogs. I've seldom been a wheelchair, but started using a cane in my '20s.

Kids are wonderfully curious, and quite willing to accept information: even if it's a bit unpleasant, like 'my hips don't work right.' The trick, I think, is to be factual and direct. I didn't like vague euphemisms as a child: and still don't.

Dogs? That's an excellent insight. Not all dogs get upset at seeing me, a human with an extra-long arm that I use as a leg: but it does happen. It's certainly not something for the dog's owner to be embarrassed about.
 
Thanks for sharing this.  I try to treat everyone the same and guidelines like this help me know when I'm on the right track. 
 
+Deborah Le Page I understand. I have fibromyalgia as well as lupus and a clotting and digestive disorder. We have a support group on Plus called +Community Support if you would like to hang out and talk. You can follow the page by clicking on the link. 
 
I used to be one of those people who didn't know how to speak to or react to someone with a visible disability.
It wan't until I dated someone with a disability that I lost the awkwardness of it. And later that I saw how I used to be by observing how other people acted or adverted their eyes.
It's ironic that I used to do the same because I was taught that staring is rude. But acting like a person isn't even there...that's worse.
 
Thank you, I will definitely exercise this wheelchair etiquette . 
 
Id be looking at you...
.your absolutley gorgeous ! 
 
Your openness helps open the eyes and hearts of those who listen. It's just too bad more people don't listen when given the chance. 
 
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. It really got my attention :)
 
I have a question for you. Say I was in a line and waiting, and someone in a wheelchair came by and cut the line straight to the front because it's accepted. If I were to ask the person in question if she was in a hurry, would it be rude to you?

I believe that if your handicap has an incidence on the time you have (like a special transportation waiting outside), than you're welcome to pass first. But in the case where you can wait like everyone else, you should.

My question is : Is it okay to ask ?
 
Wtf?? I'm sorry but people in a wheel chair are no different, I treat people in wheelchairs the same as people who can walk and everybody should do that, looking at people differently just because of that it's just ignorant.
 
+Jessica Johnson , it sounds like your friend impolitely "assumed" that you only held the door because the next person was in a wheelchair.
+M Monica thanks for writing this post. I know I personally still experience an instinctive reaction to avoid eye contact, because I was raised hearing "don't stare". I cognitively realize the folly of believing that looking is the same as staring, or that looking quickly away is not rude, but it can be hard to overcome those habits. For this reason, I am especially appreciative of tip number 3, teaching proper and positive interaction early benefits all of society.
 
in my offroad club we have a guy that lost his legs due to a train accident. He climbs out the back of his grand cherokee, unfolds his wheelchair and hops down from the back. Its quite a sight and it shocks the hell out of everyone that doesn't know he's  an amputee when he is able to rotate his torso  in the front seat and face the back of his seat. 
He once flipped his jeep on the side on a slippery road and the Police man whispered to me: "was he like "this" before the accident?"
Just had to share that.. :)
 
Thanks for opening my eyes, sad to say but a lot of the things you say are so true. I see myself in the DON'T DO column. I think it's time for a change.
 
Great post. I love the part addressing parents of small children.

I disagree with those in the comments who say that it's sad that you had to write this. My disability is relatively minor--a malformed right ear--but I've always been able to relate to people not knowing how to react when they see it. Why should I expect them to know? If I expect our interactions not to be awkward then I've got a personal responsibility to break the ice and make them feel comfortable.

Mind you, I don't always do this, just as we all frequently choose not to interact with strangers. But when I do I go into it ready for anything. Sometimes when it's clear that they're curious I'll even casually make mention of my ear to give them an opening to ask me about it.

A disability is not an excuse for self-pity. It's an opportunity to exercise understanding. And to others with disabilities--even those more serious than my own--I'll show you true respect by expecting the same social graces from you as I do any adult.
 
+Matt BeDell, if a specific wheelchair user asked you to kneel down, it's possible they have a hearing or visual difficulty, or they may just have a personal preference to see you face to face; however, many people, like me, prefer the opposite, because it can seem very condescending.

A good rule, if you are unsure, is to ask. "Would you like me to kneel next to you, or keep standing?" 
 
Its amazing how hard it can be to come out and just say all the things you just said. I am not in a wheelchair, but I think I understand.
 
+Jonathan Paulin I would definitely call that person out, it really bugs me when someone uses a disability as an excuse to be a jerk to everyone else.
 
You're a BABE! So, I don't care whatever form of chair you're in, I'd hit on you all the same!
:D
 
one should take the time to say hi or hello just something positive to one in a wheel chair, or some other fortunate handycap related , every needs to be known hey your a survivor , and hope your day is a calm day . your a very courageous person thanks for sharing , much appreciated....
 
human beings are human beings no matter how they get around
 
one of my sister is sick too, this helped me alot.thank you...i never read so much..but u caught me..nice post..really love it..
 
+Jonathan Paulin, keep in mind that a lot of times people who are in wheelchairs are in wheelchairs because they are critically ill. The reasons places like museums, Disneyworld, and other theme parks allow wheelchairs to pass straight to the head of the line is because people like myself are extremely ill- when I go out, I literally have about an hour before I am so exhausted I must return home. When you are so critically ill you cannot wait in line, even when sitting in a wheelchair. Sometimes when I overtax my body's strength, I end up in the hospital for several days, recovering, or I need an extra blood transfusion as a result. 

Having lupus is like having 1/50th the energy and strength of a normal person. All day long I sit here in a recliner chair and I do not leave it; I am basically house-bound. (In case you wonder why I post so much on Plus, that's why.)

People in wheelchairs get to cut to the heads of lines because they have very limited time and strength. This is sometimes not true of paraplegics, but is often true of other wheelchair users. "Calling out" someone in that sort of situation would make you look extremely insensitive, and very bad. 
 
Excellent eye opener for those of us who aren't sure how to react.  Thanks.
 
some really great things there, my partner uses a wheel chair because of her M.E. so i understand where you are coming from with your tips
 
Never would have thought such a post would be necessary. Should not have to remind people to treat people how you would like to be treated.
 
ya im a kid and i now know wht to do thx/thanks
 
Thanks for sharing this - I've learned a lot from it.
 
Thanks for this.  Personally, I would prefer to be at the same height because spending too much time with my neck bent aggravates the stupid repetitive injury I inflicted on myself by using a bad posture for too many years of computer use, but for a stranger in a chair, I'd definitely ask first.
 
thank you very much +M Monica  •‿• I was always having a very disturbing  and intense internal dialogue of misconceptions while intracting with wheelchair users . . It bothered me and it made others feel unconfortable . . you made me UNDERSTAND a lot better that you do not want to be treated in a Special way . . I was ALWAYS trying to cheer them up, you know as if they were feeling down all the time . . now I know I was jsut being weird . . thanks for the info . . :D!
 
Hi Monica

Thanks for this post (and the lovely picture of you with Sirius).  I hope people both read it and follow your advice.  I am a father of 8 and our eldest son, Steven (22), who has worked with horses since he was a young lad had a serious accident nearly 2 years ago.   It resulted in his fracturing his top 2 vertebrae and involved a stay in hospital and time with his head in a halo brace. Thankfully, he has now made an almost complete recovery.

However, I remember when my wife and I first visited him in hospital In Liverpool from our home in Scotland, how difficult I found it to approach - far less speak sensibly - to other patients in the ward with him who had similar (or worse) injuries and their attendant relatives.

Therefore, I shall take your thoughtful and helpful guidance to heart and will follow it when I next meet any person in a wheelchair or otherwise incapacitated.  Like Rab above, I really admire your style and I also respect your candour and your courage in the face of your condition (which I had never heard of before).

Kind regards and best wishes,

Donald Smith.
 
Thank you for being so forthright about this. It can be hard to know what's right in a given situation, and hearing first-hand from someone who's affected is very helpful. I try to use that same methodology for everyone I meet - assume they want to be seen, acknowledged, and made to feel part of the group. 
 
Just a comment to your first tip:
Not everybody likes to make eye contact. I hate it. I can't stand looking into people's eyes. So I'd rather look on your wheelchair or on the ground or somewhere else, but not your eyes.

You shouldn't feel hurt when someone does not want to look into your eyes while talking.
 
+M Monica I wouldn't want to publicly call out anyone, I was thinking of finding a polite way to tell them in private if possible. It would be a shame to make someone feel guilty to use a privilege she/he has the right to and should use.

Thanks for your answer. Your post is well written and very interesting.
 
It makes me feel good to read this post...great work.  I have always, correctly I now see, taught my children that is it ok to ask if they don't understand something.  Especially when it come to someone who is in a wheelchair, or has a physical distortion...whatever.  One thing you touched on that I have always done, is when I speak to someone in a wheelchair I always knelt down.  I just thought it was the courteous thing to do since it can be painful to have to look up and have a conversation with someone, especially at length.  Maybe it is ok to kneel down after a period of time?
T Digby
 
Well said. Thank you for this post. 
 
Thank you for taking the time to share this. I work in retail and I often observe a lot of what you have described.
 
Good to know this stuff. Thanks. And wow, you're 5’11"!
 
+M Monica This is a very interesting post. As I was reading it I realized that my natural tendencies towards the people that I've met in wheelchairs have basically followed the guidelines you've pointed out without my thinking about it. I wonder now if this has affected my interactions with the people I have known throughout my life who were stuck in the chairs.

Particularly throughout late high school and in college I managed to make several friends who where confined to wheelchairs, and I am not a person that easily makes friends. I always treated them in the same way I try to treat all people, and I wonder now if that is generally abnormal.
 
I didn't know there was a different way to talk to people in a wheel chair.. I guess u address it like someone sitting in a reg chair if there is an open one next to it introduce urself and ask may I sit here :)
 
Thanks . I enjoy your posts. Especially the closing comments on the last one.
 
Thanks for this excellent post! My wife has MS, and when we're out and using a wheelchair, nothing is more demeaning than when people talk to me about her ("can she walk to the table" or "...step up two stairs") instead of addressing her directly.
BAG GAB
 
getting to know an alter-abled person...make you human...I know from experience
 
+M Monica - "I blue-screen if I stand too long."
I love this analogy! Thank you for sharing this guide with us :)
 
would be very useful for the rest of my life. thanks for the post.
 
When I broke both my heels, I got number five quite a bit.  That or the casual glance and such.  It was kinda fun bein' different and handicapped, haha.  Also, it is true not all dogs may freak out.  This lovely year old pitbull boy I knew always wanted to jump on my lap!  Same as any ol' time anyone would sit in a regular chair!
 
Thank you for #4!  I've always just tried to go with what felt natural and consistent, but #4 always stumped me. Any response feels wrong.
 
Cool shot.. and great post, thank you for sharing.
 
Cheers for sharing & Good Luck in the future :-)
 
I hope a lot more read this, this is excellent advice.  One of my friends I went to school with was in a wheelchair, we talked hours on end about this topic.  She would do her best to try and make it as easy on others as possible to approach her.  But there was only so much she could do, the other party needs to take some self initiative as well.
 
i look at you and i m not afraid of being caught for staring ... for me u r more sacred than those complete humans with a void in their hearts ...
 
you still who you are and beautiful..wish you the best in the future....
 
"BTW, I am not, and cannot be a spokesperson for all wheelchair users." Although this is understandable, I must commend you on your very comprehensive, enlightening and interesting article. I have +1ed it and Google+ does not allow for more, however, I would easily give it 10 out of 10! Thank you so much for posting it and I wish you every possible success!
 
yeahh you look very happy gettings  from mexico ....... you are a beautiful girl
 
Thank you for such a well informative post. I have interacted with various people in wheelchairs throughout my life but I have never thought to express what you have written here and again it was quite informative so Thank you again.
 
They don't know.  You have to tell them.
 
About Tip #5, I'm glad I live in a city where people still cares.  I remember a few months ago, I noticed a wheelchair-bound person had an accident with the chair and he was on a grassy patch on the side of the road.  By the time I found safe parking for my vehicle and came to his aid there were two other people there (one ran across a busy intersection).  We all made sure he was back on his chair OK.  It's surprisingly difficult to get a full-grown adult man back on a motorized chair, that's for sure ... we could see he was kind of flustered and it was understandable being vulnerable out on a busy street and all but we did what we could.  I related what I could about needing help once in a while when out on a kayak, etc.   By the time we got back in my vehicle, the EMS showed up ... so yeah, that was a good day.
 
Thank you.

My ethics require that I treat everyone with respect and compassion, and this will help me know how to better balance them with regards to persons using wheelchairs.

If my daughter had asked when she was little why a person was using a wheelchair I would have told her some people require assistance in getting around, and wheelchairs are one of the forms that assistance takes.
 
Great read! My aunt is in a wheelchair so I was pretty much reading stuff I already know, but nonetheless, great article!
 
My sister is in a wheelchair and has been since birth due to spinabifida. She doesn't like to be treated different or special.
 
Thanks for a great educational post.  I am sure this information will be willingly used the next time we interact with a person in a wheelchair.  Again, thanks for your repost this information.
 
Love it - I use a wheelchair but because I can walk a little (10metres max) I also use an electric motorised scooter I also have a large one to which I fix a Bike trailer to carry shopping /fishing tackle/ even grandkids when I'm off road - This is a HUGE talking point and as there are a lot of disabled miners around here those who have to use scooters to get around are copying me
I agree that there are the ignorance imbiciles who don't think we have brains or are just too idiotic to use their own 
I now take a perverse pleasure in busting their bubbles by actually telling them just what I think not aggressively but I make THEM look foolish to their own children

Everyone who talks about this is an ambassador +M Monica you ARE a spokesperson we ALL are not by choice but because of our wheels
 
I prefer to sit down or squat down when talking to someone in a chair the same as I would for anyone sitting for whatever reason. I am 6'1" so I like to avoid feeling like I am towering over folks.
 
G'day Monica,just read your post.Special people have a gift of knowing where they are in life.;and how to "touch " others.Looks like your in that special zone,take care.
 
talking to some one in a wheel chair is the same as talking to anyone else tbh..
 
Loved this article. Resonates with me, universal aspects of being polite and a human within those few points.
 
Thanks for all these tips I face same every day when I push my son on his weelchairs
 
This is a great post; Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and experience with others.
 
That was an excellent read and very informative!  Thanks for sharing!
 
nice doggy cute dog i feel sorry for the person in the wheel chair 
 
This is an extremely good read.  Thanks for posting it.  My wife is quadraphlegic so we have many friends in chairs.  The only no-no is to use the word cripple.  Just say 'wheelchair bound'.
 
"people who don't glance directly at me, but will furtively look at me and then look away,"

Perhaps some of them think you're cute. 

It can be quite difficult for people with regard to Tip 5. I've been told to f*** off by disabled people on two occasions who seemed in obvious distress when I've offered help, so I feel some trepidation. I want to help, but I also don't want to seem to be patronizing. Although, it's possible those people were either extremely frustrated by the situation or just assholes.  
 
Great article. Should not be afraid to talk. It's good to reach out.
 
Being comfortable with differences is part of life. Nicely done, M Monica!
 
I have never really needed this advice, as i was taught to treat everyone nicely as i would want to be treated. The part about not kneeling down was something i figured out myself. However, the first time i had any major one on one interaction with someone in a wheelchair, was at a nightclub, and a girl in a wheelchair came up to me and asked me if i wanted to dance, and a sure just popped out of my mouth before my brain had a chance to catch up, and as we were making our way to the dance floor, i had a quick near mini panic attack, as i had no idea on how to proceed, but i thought to myself just go out and dance as i normally would and just be ready to adjust what i was doing and how i was doing it. Turns out i was right, i was dancing and she was as well, the only difference was that she was only moving from the waist up, but we ended up having a great time that night, talking and dancing, and whatever few preconceptions i may have had, vanished like smoke in the wind. It is just like you basically said, just treat someone that is in a wheelchair as you would like to be treated, the just happen to not have the same height capability with their eyes, but that does not mean that they are any less intelligent, capable or in her case, a smart-ass, as she could throw an insult or a dirty joke with the best of them, which was perfect, as i am one as well. Thanks for the info about the dogs, that, i had no clue about! Even though you have no desire to be a spokesperson, you have done a great job of it, as you are  increasing knowledge and awareness! Thanks!!!
 
hi, I have a friend in a wheelchair and I lower myself to talk to her not because I want to make her feel bad or be condescending but on the contrary I want to be on her level to be able to better communicate and have a better eye contact. I feel as if when I keep standing up I am looking down on her and making her feel uncomfortable and less important then others so I want to eliminate the physical distance between us...is this wrong than?
 
Hi Monica
it not hard to talk to a any person in a wheelchair n dont worry about how other people think. U are no different then a person that can walk. i know , ia a disabled veteran with a service dog. can can look me up on leekrottweilerhaven@facebook.com. n feel free to call me n i can help u with your dog , to become a service dog.
 
A big one that I've noticed, having a paralytic father, is that it might not always be wise to go for a handshake when meeting/greeting someone in a wheelchair (especially if their controls are in the form of a head array rather than a toggle). If you do, though, and they are unable to reciprocate, you can still place your hand on theirs; don't awkwardly back off and apologize. There's such a thing as being too sensitive.
 
many people are too intimidated to take on encounters or 'situations' "head on"... I learned alot about working with people who are either dependent on wheelchairs or in assisted-living. +M Monica you have it spot on! Definitely need to educate people on how to act and react to people who may either be in a wheelchair or otherwise assisted. Its when people dont know how to act that they 'act' strangely.. which Im sure usually leads to hurt and isolation. People just need to know its best to acknowledge and be acknowledged.
 
" I know this is difficult to understand, but think of it in terms of computers: I blue-screen if I stand too long. " This comment is made of win. :) BTW this is really good info to know. Thank you. :D
 
Thats very thoughtful of you, and an astute tips.
BTW you look pretty too, truly! am i allowed to say that? :)
 
that i belive in that they are human and they deserve to be treated like humans
 
i agree to u ..u are rite.. we should treat every one equally .
 
Get well ASAP. Like n agree with your tips.
 
I would bang her  : )   If she thinks she has it tough then talk to someone with a facial deformity where people REALLY wont look at you. She's not a freak she's just stuck in a chair. Should not be a big deal for society to handle.
 
Monica, I know just exactly what you mean... I run into the same things... and Department stores need to follow guidelines and leave some room in the isles too!!! BTW... have you ever been going down a perfectly good sidewalk and suddenly it stops... no ramp, no way to get down, and nowhere to go when you get down???
J. 
 
Thanks for the touching post !
I saw a young woman in a wheelchair once going down a ramp as we were approaching. Without thinking I cried out "*Weeeeee!*".
My parents were shocked as we looked in silence at each other for a split second, then we both burst out laughing!   Just be natural, is my thought. 
 
you go girl have a nice day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
 
live like they are just like us
don't feel them useless
Don't feel them they can't do anything without anyone
when they know it they become proud themselves
 
A South Park episode taught me that in order to make people who are different feel normal, you have to treat them normally and not look at them differently.
 
Hi +M Monica

As you said, every person has his/her own preferences, and that even if there are some points that might be valid for everyone, the fact is that each person is different and it depends on your own attitude.

#1 Yes, this is a basic fact.
#2 It depends. If we're already talking then it's logical to wonder about the wheelchair, but if you're a random stranger, then stop your urge to ask questions as you wouldn't ask that other guy why he is so fat or that girl why is she so bad dressed.
#3 Children are always wanting to learn and it's good that they see that not all the people walk on their feet but beyond that fact they are normal people (many kids usually say "I want one like that!")
#4 I don't remember that anyone has lowered to talk with me, but maybe that's because even seated I'm quite tall, and if I want I can raise my chair to talk eye to eye with anyone. But if there's a group of people the real problem is if they talk between them looking at their faces without bothering to talk to that guy that is down there.
#5 Usually when I need help I ask for it, I don't wait for anyone to have the courage to talk to me. Of course every time someone offers to open a door I say Thanks because usually doors might require some effort from a wheelchair.
#7 Yes :-)

With regards to the comment below about jumping queues, even if you're in a wheelchair, you should also respect other people and ask them if you can move forward because even if they are standing on their feet you don't know anything about them so they might have at that moment more urgency than you do. If you want people to treat you like a normal person, you should also try to behave as a normal person.
 
Can't be so hard, wheelchair people are just people :D
And less-than-ten-digit hand people like myself are also just people.

And personally, I like a bit of humor about my own disability
 
Well said Monica!
.Pushing someone in a wheel chair can be an insight into the attitudes that you face from day to day.Keep spreading the message.
     Love the little dog.
David.
 
why is different always treated like something bad or something that has to be approached on special terms like catching snowflakes? Whats more special...the norm where everything is mass manufactured and matches or things and people that are unique? I am so sick of the word normal. 
 
Its just like talking to a regular person... but sometimes they dont like talking about y their in a wheelchair.. learned it the hard way
 
As a techie, I like, "I blue-screen if I stand to long." It made me laugh. Hope that come across as intended.
 
Ya know.....i started reading this.......and then read some more....... and then read some more.........and then read some more.......and then finally i was like "damn it's quit'n time...... do i really need to know what people should already know?". Cause honestly......i'll probably never meet ya, but if I did, I certainly wouldn't treat you any weirder than I do anyone else i've ever stalked................ ;)
 
i THINK tip no 1 is just enough...i'm guilty (partly) and i'll take it to heart.
 
You're 5'11"?!
Damn, you're tall!!!
 
I really love this post. I work with many children and young adults who are in wheelchairs because of neuromuscular diseases and this is tremendously useful.
 
Thanks for sharing this information. :)
 
Share your food with me? I'm hungry and what I'm cooking is not yet ready.
 
I'm guilty of number 4 +M Monica , but then it was in a noisy bar and I am quite tall. I thought that more respectful than craning over them.
 
You have a great looking dog.  I don,t know if my dog Reggie is use to someone in a wheel chair unless he remembers my brother in law Paul who died from complications from being in a chair too long.  So get up and stand as much as you can safely, you are strong and have someone stand by you in case of trouble.  You are a gift to the human race.
 
Thank you so much. But hey, don't compare yourself to "normal people." You are a normal person. You're a normal person who happens to have lupus and so must sit in a wheelchair. That doesn't make you abnormal. Your awesomeness and intelligence might be a bit more than normal, though. :-)
 
True story: i was paying pool with a few friends at the local billiards spot when a guy in a wheelchair approached me wanting to play against me for money. He was watching me shoot. He must've been a pretty good shot since he wanted to gamble. I accepted his offer and as i figured he was a good shot. I barely beat him and he paid up. Later that evening my buddies tried to down me for taking his money. I had no guilt whatsoever. The guy approached me! How would he have felt if i wouldn't have accepted his money since he was in a wheelchair? I'm sure he had respect for me after i took his money. He probably wasnt too happy that he lost though.
 
Monica. Good Stuff. I have a disability myself. I agree the direct approach from others is always appreciated.
 
I don't think +M Monica realises that people are sneaking a glance at her not because she's in a wheelchair but because she's quite attractive.
 
Thanks for that post.  It's nice info to have.  I remember being scolded by an ex-girlfriend for asking a guy about his wheelchair.  I forget the details, but his wheelchair was one designed to be more "athletic" or "sporty" if that makes any sense.  The wheels were angled and spokeless, and the seat sat lower than most.  As a cyclist, I recognized some similar components and just blurted out some knee-jerk reaction question (I think it was something in regards to the wheels that looked a lot like what you'd find on a racing bike.)

Anyhoo, my ex openly chided me for being insensitive and rude, but the guy in the chair was excited and started bragging about his "rig."  I don't think I was any more "enlightened" than my ex. I just have always had a dysfunctional brain/mouth filter.  Perhaps if my brain filter worked better, I'd have been one of those people who just stared or stole glances out of the corners of my eyes.

Again, thanks!
 
This is great rock on girl 
 
There is a lot of useful information here.....Thank You
 
Hi Monica, I'm not sure how your post showed up in my stream today but I'm glad it did.  My mom has a congnitive brain disorder and I am often an observer to the 'special treatment' (e.g. even people who are aware of her disease speak louder to her as if she's deaf, or they adopt the tone you'd use with a child.)
So while you may be writing about wheelchair etiquette today I think you touched on something bigger: a reminder of how we should treat each other all the time! 
 
God bless them and give them strength all the time !! 
 
I had a coworker who is in a wheelchair, and I agree that wheelchair users want, above anything, to be treated as any other person. This means that they want their condition to be taken into consideration without it shadowing their personality. My interaction with this coworker was a bit tricky the first days, but after that the wheelchair just dissapears from the mind.
 
Just try saying hello and be yourself. I've met people from all walks of life. My bowling friends were deaf and it took me just aver a year to learn sign,
 
You forgot the one about people seeing someone in a power chair and start to talk loud as if being in a chair makes you deaf as well.
 
just tell them they don't have to act different around u
 
Great post, thank you for these tips...  
 
talk like you would to any one else. i would know i was in one for almost my whole third grade class 
 
My wife does dog training and when they have a client in a wheelchair, they do desensitization drills.
 
Thanks a lot Monica, I found something useful on the internet today.:-)
 
Thanks for tips on how to react while in sphere of contact with people sitting on a wheelchair,I understand the situation,keep well.
 
Some people are not spoken to because they intentionally cause hurt. The kind of hurt is called taking people for granted. When they do this there's no reason to have a discussion at all. An accumulation of inconsiderate insults makes people avoid eye contact or discussion. Making new friends that don't do those things my have a different result.
 
'how to talk to people in a wheelchair'? Really? I always talk to people in wheelchairs like I would talk to any regular human being .. and I might (by chance) notice that they are sitting in a seat with wheels,
 
Everyone wants to sit and play in an empty wheelchair … most do not understand how much many people have them as part of their life…

 
Why would the world not want to look at a cute girl
 
Fun fact: I used to work at Target. During orientation training, Target employees are specifically instructed to stoop or squat down when interacting with or helping a guest in a wheelchair. It is thought to be, as you said, respectful. Even at the time it struck me as odd.
 
Me being in a wheelchair, I agree with every single thing you've posted. Nothing drives me more crazy than the reaction I get from people when I tell them I can drive with my feet. Whenever I ask why they thought I couldn't, they always go "aren't you paralyzed?"

Also, I can echo the getting on my eye level thing to talk. As someone else stated, just leave a few feet between us so I don't have to look straight up at you.

Thanks for writing this, hopefully more people start doing some of these things. 
 
My Grandmother had MS and was confined to a wheelchair. Recently I learned that some of her happiest moments were when my brother and I were little and loved to ride on her lap and climb in Her wheelchair with Her. She said it was one of the few times that she didn't feel different. I am soooo glad that you posted this. I can remember people staring at her and whispering. Acting as if the fact that she was in a wheelchair meant that she couldn't hear or see them. I hope this makes people more aware and helps them realize that people aren't disabled they are just differentlyabled. If you don't mind I would like to re-post this on a couple different sites? 
 
You're a beautiful young lady facing some extraordinary circumstances. Its inspiring to see you take them with stride and use your experience to help people gain insight into the condition of you and others. Thank you!
 
Thanks Monica for reminding us all to be compassionate and mindful. I've tried for the most part to ignore the "disability" and attend to the person occupying the wheelchair. Simply asking, "do you need or want some help? Should I hold the door for you?" And when shopping, I'll add, "don't hesitate to ask if I can help you reach something - I'm happy to help you."
Also, when I'm around children with their immense curiosity, I do say, "the best manners are to not stare and to ask your questions, because how else are you to learn what you need to know. Just be polite."
Eric S
 
Thank you for sharing your experiences. Very eloquently put and helpful!
 
DEAR M. MONICA:

I DO MY BEST TO TALK TO PEOPLE IN WHEELCHAIRS JUST LIKE I WOULD ANYONE ELSE.  I HAVE A DISABILITY-EMPHYSEMA BUT YOU CAN'T TELL I HAVE IT.  I BELIEVE MOST PEOPLE HAVE  MORE OF A DISABILITY THAN THOSE WHO TRULY HAVE ONE.  THEY ARE SO NARROW-MINDED AND SELF-CENTERED THAT THEY CAN'T BE SOCIALABLE WITH ANYONE BECAUSE THEY ARE MISERABLE WITH THEMSELVES.  IF I EVER MET YOU WE WOULD PROBABLY TALK FOR A LONG TIME AND JUST ENOY OURSELVES.  THAT'S WAY IT SHOULD BE-WITH ANYONE, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE.  I ENJOYED YOUR POST THOROUGHLY.  HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT WRITING YOUR LIFE STORY IN A BOOK?  YOU WRITE VERY WELL.  I'D BE THE FIRST PERSON TO BUY YOUR BOOK.  LOVE MARIA NOLAN
 
Thanks for (re)posting this.  As one of those people who tend-to-do-nothing due to not wanting to seem impolite, it was a very informative and educational read. :)
 
I didn't know you were in a wheelchair until this post. People are people, good, bad or somewhere in between, I am sure you've met the full spectrum of reactions that people exhibit when they encounter someone in a wheel chair, but I am sure you will find that most people mean well but sometimes don't always manage to react well when they first meet you.
 
Thanks +M Monica for a great piece of writing and an explanation of why my normally well behaved dog is an asshole. As, occasionally, am I. :)
 
very nice of you to share your thoughts...
 
Thanks for sharing this.  I have felt comfortable with most people.  This adds a great perspective on how to treat people with respect.
 
I loved the blue screen quote that was funny, and thanks for the tips.
 
I was always led to believe it's never lupus ;-)
 
Thank you for this. I never knew the social protocol before. :)
 
Si felice sempre perchè la vita è una sola ma meravigliosa !!
Con tanto affetto dall'Italia
B.
Translate
 
I think your tips are great! I used a wheelchair briefly and have had family members use them. God bless you!
 
Nice job on this post M Monica.
 
I think it is wonderful that you wrote this up and I think a LOT of people could really benefit from considering these points!!! No you may not represent all wheelchair users but I suspect you represent a lot because the people I have known in a wheelchair felt the same way :-)
 
about Tip #3 is there anything other than "i don't know, lets ask her" that's also an option? what if the person on the wheelchair doesn't really want to share the painful reason with a stranger. how do you still communicate the same type of message to the kids without actually asking. 
 
Over the years some of my good friends with various disabilities have taught me how they want to be treated and my short version is, with respect to normal everyday interactions, ignore the handicap and just treat them the same way you treat anyone else. Most of my friends are just sick of being treated and talked to differently by people.

On a side note one thing that bothers me is this liberal nonsense attitude that we're supposed to pretend everyone can do everything and no one has any limits. It's stupid and results in weird or bad behaviour. To set the bar of normal at perfect means no one will ever meet your expectations including you. Better to set the bar at handicapped and watch everyone exceed your expectations. Especially since everyone is handicapped somehow. But everyone is gifted at something too.
We don't need the liberal way which leads to disappointment for everyone. We need to recognize our differences and weaknesses, and revel in our strengths.
Variety is the spice of life, this includes people. Who wants friends that are all exactly the same as they are? Where's the fun in that?
 
Thank  you. This helps me to know the proper etiquette.
All the Best, 
Anthony
 
I like this pic...you have nice long legs and good feature +M Monica :-)
This is cool, I like you tips very informative and cleverly written , thanks darl! Cheers
 
M monica, i hope this post comes across in the right way. It annoys me that most of the posts here congratulate you on being btave enough to make these points. Its sounds to me like people give you extra respect for standing up and making these points because you are making them in a wheelchair. If i made the same points i would get less recognition because i am able bodied. All your points are great and they should be credited but i at least want you to know that i credit you for them only the same as if anyone who is not in a wheelchair had said them. I hope that makes a point.
 
Thanks so much for the reminder. I'm sure I can do better.
 
Awesome post to read, +M Monica. These tips are very helpful for anyone. I've found myself in awkward positions with children or animals, and trying to teach them to be polite can be difficult. By the way, the picture of you with your dog is cute.
 
Wow. Thanks for giving me this insight. I am one who wouldn't know what to ask.
 
Thanks for sharing these tips.  I'm terribly guilty of kneeling/squatting down and never once considered that it might be construed in a condescending manner.
 
Talk to someone in a wheelchair as if they weren't. If they need a hand they'll let you know.
 
I help a fella in a electric wheelchair that was stuck in a pot hole, man those chairs are heavy...
 
God is in control how ever u feel its ohk as long ure happy with that I will always support ure vision and mission,bless u in all u need in life in jesus name
 
Thank you for the enlightenment.
 
I wish everytime you ever happy.I am myanmar,so I can't speak English not well.But I wish the best for you.Happy time for happy day my friend.
Good luck.you can get a kind man. That's sure.
 
What a great educational comment. I'd love this on an info sheet, so it can be attached to bulletin boards in public places, i.e. libraries, , ... anywhere where people can take some minutes to read. Copy (with Monica's permission of course) and email a ready to print sheet on your social network, then if one person distributes just 1-5 sheets at local places across the country, what a great education for the public. I love it. Thank you so much for giving a voice to all that need it but can not say it that well. 
 
+M Monica , just wanted to say thanks. While most of the time i feel like a grown child, asking "how and why. " about things all the time, and have friends who live in wheelchairs. It is always nice to be reminded that its ok to sometimes ask questions and offer assistance. Thank you and you're awesome for sharing with all of us
 
Great post! Very clear and concise! My father stayed in a wheelchair even though he had a prosthetic, guess he just found it easier than learning to walking again, of course his amputation was above the knee. He loved being pushed and didn't mind being helped. So talking with people in wheelchairs for me, is like talking to the guy sitting next to me, we're all and the same.  
 
Having not read the full post, i'm gonna take a guess and tell you what i think.

 I'm sure that every person in a wheelchair, want to be treated like any person not in a wheelchair. In other words, just like one would like to be treated themselves. Like a "normal" individual.
 I think what get in some peoples way of doing this, is that they are TOO careful not to step on your feelings, and in so doing, thats exactly what they do by acting different.

If i was in a wheelchair, i don't think i'd want to be treated any different. Having never been in that situation, i can only guess.
 
Great post! it´s true. People can be condescending most of times. We have to put away prejudice and treat people in a wheelchair, or any other handicap, with the respect they deserve. Believe me, I can relate to what you feel. Ihave a son with a handicap, and sometimes it is very hard to deal with some people who don´t understand.
You are so brave, my hat goes to you. Best of wishes!
 
In other words treat them like you would treat anyone else.
 
I just had a conversation with a friend of mine who is in a wheel chair, and she told me nearly the exact same things. The conversation was all brought on by the fact that I squated down beside her when talking, something she has never experienced me doing in the past. She mentioned a similar "you don't need to squat down to my level" statement, I assured her I was simply doing it since I was on my feet all day, and my legs were sore, which was true.

The funny thing about the whole conversation is I didn't realize people in wheelchairs were treated different until we talked about it. I for one have been taught that treating people with equality is the right answer, not the 'it's not polite to stare at people who are different' approach.

Anyway, I just figured I'd share a story. Those are some very good tips you've got there!
 
My father has had a physical disability for my entire life. This acclimated me to disabled people and their disabilities. The number one thing I tell people about disabled people, no matter the disability, is to treat them as much like a normal person as possible. That's the same for wheelchair-bound, amputee, stutterer, deaf, and blind all alike.
 
Some people are just ignorant and immature, but they're offended when people treat them differently.
 
Great post! I think it answers a lot of questions for a lot of people:-)
 
+M Monica, I'd just treat you like anybody else. You aren't any different, after all. I don't care who might think I'm being cruel or uncaring.
 
I can't help but laugh, and hate myself a little for it, when I see a guy in a wheelchair wearing a Superman T-shirt, and I'm sure they do it just for that reaction...
 
I used to work as a carer monica. it made me feel and act differently. you bring ethics and morals into the job. I think it is just down to human nature. People may feel a bit uncomfortable and not know what to say or how to act. its not out of badness tho
 
Great post, a member of my ham radio club is chair-bound (due to a motorcycle accident if memory serves me correctly) and loves to find little ways to sneak in wheelchair puns throughout the day when we work events, just adds to the fun. He even mounts a mobile (car) antenna for his radio so that he gets better signal during events. Thanks for posting this, I think it's just the kind of posts we need to see these days!
 
+Michael Vaughan Perhaps that guy wears it out of accuracy. It takes a lot of strength to be disabled. And courage.
 
I have an 11 yearold brother who has had paralysis from the neck down since he was three. He is constantly changing the lives of lots of people every day. Each day he manages to be a bright, happy boy and focuses on the good things in life. When he was 3, he even said they when he dies he will go fishing with Jesus. At just 3 years old...he was okay with death and understood it. How many of us can truly say that. He cant even breath on his own and yet...he is happier than most others I see around me. People in wheelchairs are no less special to some people than we are...if anything, they are more special in certain peoples lives...like mine.
 
great post! I was born with a form of dwarfism and i absolutely hate it when people kneel down to talk to me.  I know they probably mean well but hopefully this will get the word out more :)
 
I have a friend who is in a wheelchair and whenever he sees people staring he uses humor by saying "don't worry I'm still one hell of a dancer."
 
I remember NPR reporter John Hockenberry saying that people in other countries dealt with his wheechair better than most Americans. I don't think we're as good at dealing with things outside the "normal".
 
Based on my own experiences and preferences, these are great tips. I think they would work well for most people with disabilities as a general rule. In my case, I don't mind if people kneel down or not. I don't have a vary loud voice so it's very helpful if people do kneel down in loud places like +Michael Warburton mentioned if we are trying to have a conversation. Whether it's loud or not, if there is a chair near by, feel free to sit down during a conversation that lasts more than a few minutes. That puts everybody at the "same level" without any awkwardness.
 
What's a "healthy" body look like? Everyone I know has impairments - some physical, some mental, some with less obvious issues. It takes a heart of compassion to see fellow humans with kindness. Some religious and ethnic and sadistic spiritual groups display hatred towards others with real and perceived impairment(s), as compared to their artificial ideal of a human being, but they have no respect even for themselves.

Thank you for this good reminder that human impairments do not render people any less of being human.
 
Thanks for sharing, I do say to my kids"I am not sure" when they ask why is someone in a wheel chair, but never thought to ask the person, didn't know if they would think I was rude
 
I feel it is in poor tasted to 'stare' at anyone but you are indeed entitled to speak your own suggestions.
Much like most people do not know about the many, buried truths in this world, many people just do not want to know the truth, period. Neato cars and energy drinks should not be so popular.
I  (for one) appreciate your candor and suggestions to the masses +M Monica 
 
michael+tahlia- to care is to understand! and to understand! is to care!! we are all equals! love always tel x
 
Thanks for the informative post.  I truly appreciate the amount of time and effort that went into this extremely interesting and thought provoking piece.  Thanks again!
 
The best way to talk to any body in a wheel chair or with any other disability is the same way you talk to any body else
 
THANKS! Wonderful insight on the world from a different pov!
 
Great post and glad to see it on the what's hot stream. This is the sort of thing that needs to be seen by many :-)
 
Wonderful post! I'd like to share it.
 
Mad respect for M Monica for doing this. Inspirational. 
 
We can learn so much from our children.
Thank you for a wonderful and informative post +M Monica !
 
Olá amigo seu álbum é muito bom eu preciso de um amigo assim que a amizade comigo
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Well said! As a former user of the wheeled monsters, I can absolutely relate. Your speedy recovery is in my thoughts!
 
I am guilty of said behavior and i come off as jerk, not just to ppl in wheeled chairs, but to everybody. The blue screen reference made me laugh.
 
Thanks for writing this. Very helpful.
 
Penyayang binatang...im sorry no language english
 
One thing about the sitting/standing point: In general, when two people are interacting and one is sitting while the other stands, it signals that the sitting person is of higher social rank. Think manager and subordinate, for instance.

My guess is, the crouching is in part an unconscious desire to remove that rank difference. As a wild guess, crouching when talking would be more common with people who are normally higher status in other parts of life. Would be interesting to make a study of that :)
 
Great post! +M Monica thanks for sharing. People like you help make this world a better place :-)
 
+M Monica Thanks for the awesome post. I'm guilty of nearly all of the points you've made. It's horrible because it's what we are taught from a young age.

I have a 4 year old daughter and I'd like her to know better. In some areas of life I like to think I'm succeeding. This week whilst watching the Olympics, she tried to draw my attention to a particular athlete, when discussing two female gymnasts. One was white, the other black. Instead of going for what might have been an obvious defining characteristic to ensure I knew which girl she was referring to, she said "the girl with the black hair in a bun". Win.

Back on your point(s), I do try to handle such queries she has as diplomatically as I might by saying things like "everyone is different and that's okay" but am feeling wholly inadequate after reading your post.

The last thing anyone wants to do is offend. And we think we are doing right (by avoidance, essentially) so as not to do so, yet it seems our reluctance to interact simply makes matters worse. It's probably a great study of political correctness gone overboard (yet again).

Case in point: even after reading your post, if I even imagine myself presented with a situation where I saw someone in a wheelchair, my imagination is screaming at me that the polite thing to do is not notice...look away...don't make them feel akward. Such is the depth of the ingrained training.

The root desire (to not offend, etc.) of my actions (or lack of) is good...the result is clearly not so good.

I think it will take a lot of courage on the part of people like me who've been taught certain ways of behaving to overcome those deeply seeded habits and faults.

Thank you so much for your post. I hope that everything I've said came out as I intended. I hope I can improve myself and help to improve the next generation. 
 
I have a good friend in a wheelchair.  He's got a dog too :)
 
Loved your post... Thanks for the great info...
 
Great information! I never thought about how dogs may react so that was very helpful. I see one dog who is very comfortable!!!! Take care and have a good weekend :)
 
just ask the person in a wheelchair to pop a wheelie.
 
Great photos in your profile set..what a smoking hot body!! I'm just a dirty old man but I think secretly you don't mind me noticing..keep up the great attitude and thanks for enlightening the curious 
 
Very well said, you are obviously a thoughtfull person with a great ability to communicate.
 
That all sounds fair enough except the quick glancing thing.

Its in my nature to quickly scan my environment. I do it with people who aren't in wheel chairs, attractive, ugly, fat, thin, black, white, tall, short, you know, what ever is different or catches the eye. Its not an insult to people, its just the way our brains constantly scan for things. If I quickly glanced at a wheel chair it might be because I'm simply being aware of my environment. Plus I see a few wheel chairs I guess on a weekly/monthly basis, so if I was to stare openly at them and then ask each person what the dealio is? I think that might be a touch on the invasive side perhaps?

If you are in a wheel chair you are going to stand out. Its not a bad thing. But people are gonna look, and they might not actually want or have time to talk to you about it, but they might not be able to help the odd glance either.  
 
i think i'm a fan now.... you've made me realize my mistake in being overly cautious in dealing with friends and acquaintances of your condition! :-)
 
Interesting write up. I myself am in a chair and fortunately most people know these things on their own in my experience (I live in Boston MA) and often get favorable treatment in this regard. I think this is becoming much less of an issue now a days.

I actually prefer when people ask why I'm in a wheelchair as well. When people dodge the topic, it gives it a vibe that the entire fact you are in a chair bothers them and that they believe you (are/should be) bothered by it too. Personally, being confined to a (power) wheelchair doesn't bother me much at this point, and I don't want people to think that talking about it should/would upset me. Bring it on, I welcome it! It basically just makes it like you're playing the game of life on Legendary difficulty. Gives you some serious bragging rights if you come out alright. :)
 
Thank you very much your post! Your discussions relating lupus as well reminded me of a recent literature that I have come across written by Norman Doidge, M.D called "The Brain That Changes Itself". I found it a very insightful and interesting read, and would highly recommend it. 
Mark C
 
Awesome post! I LOL'd at "I blue-screen if I stand too long" :)
 
Extraordinary......well done and u are not alone......cheers yeah....
 
As someone who talks with people as a part of my day activities I would think this was obvious. Sorry to hear some people lack manners.
 
my bro was in a wheelchair for a while due to a broken leg n he hated that stuff n good for u for saying it
Pat M
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So people in wheel chairs are real people as well. I was lied to do many years ago.
Thanks for helping to make the world not so dumb. 
 
True; but part of that is the product of our culture. People with disabilities are kept "out of sight"; the elderly are kept out of sight. In gated communities, children or minorities are kept out of sight.
We watch television, movies, listen to music, read magazines produced for people just like us; anyone not just like us is kept "out of sight."
And so we no longer learn to treat everyone as our brothers and sisters, but rather as strangers, alien.
Thanks Tim, and thanks, Monica.
+Tim Arrick +M Monica 
 
Being in a wheel chair doesnt make them un-human. It's not like they are different are something. In my eyes they still can walk, just not up right. But ha, who need to walk then u can ride? I dont judge people by their conditions. besides its their attitude that show who they really are.
 
Monica, Thank you for your informational, clever and definitely witty post. Your personality shines through your words.  I don't know how I got on this page in my email account but I saw you and loved your topic. I have a disabled little boy and I struggle to help people to understand how to approach him as he is partially verbal, sometimes yells and bites his fists...ASD Autism. Anyway, if society can't figure out how to talk to a person who is communicative sitting in a mobile chair than how will they know how to interpret or navigate around my son when he is kind of "spazzing" out which could be sensory excited...well, everyone practically knows someone with Autism these days but that doesn't mean they know how to approach them and the family.  I didn't mean for this to be about my son. I really enjoyed what you wrote and wanted to let you know that you are giving both dis-abled bodied AND abled bodied people the opportunity to learn a needed explained social ettiquette.  Good Luck in all your endeavors!  Kathy Dahlager
 
Very well written, thanks for taking the time to share your insights with the rest of the world.
 
Having spent time in a wheelchair due to several arthritis, I must say that the most unexpected part for me was that people feel that it is perfectly acceptable to pretend you aren't even there.
 
I talk with the people in weelchair just like I talk with people who are standing... equally... one day I talked with the girl to whom I have known a long time and as she didn't like what I said, she said to me 'don't you see I am in a wheelchair?' Yes.. the point is that some people in a weelchair want to be treated as disable and not like equal human beeings.. so you can't win in some cases... For me, people are people, doesn't matter the size, look, legs, no legs or what ever...
Igor IV
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Hey, Monica! A very useful post. Thanks a lot.
 
Great post, very helpful.
I have a friend in a wheelchair, I'm ok around him, but I've always felt awkward around other people in wheelchairs.
Now I know what to do when my daughter asks me why they're in a wheelchair too.
 
If I saw you I'd probably ask "You like Thai food?" 
=)
 
Thank you for this post. I'll admit, I'm one of those people that try not to look or stare at people in wheelchairs. Not because I think it's weird, but because I don't want to seem rude and stare. Next time though, I'll try and look on, and give a smile. :)
 
Thank you for the tips.  I'm not sure the "blue screen" reference is appropriate, but that's only because it's called the "blue screen of death ".  Perhaps a less "gruesome" phrase would get the point across as well?
 
Thank you for this very helpful post! Even though you say you're not speaking for everyone who has to use a wheelchair, I think your advice is true for most!
 
+Ken Brody well, blue screening is very serious for me. That's why I have to use the wheelchair, because I must avoid it at all costs. My system can't afford to reboot so many times. It doesn't necessarily mean death, although it can, because each time I pass out, I could hit my head on something and have cerebral edema or permanent brain damage; at the very least a concussion were I to hit a hard surface. So though I can go up and down stairs, it's very risky. So blue screening is sort of an accurate comparison. I can restart the system, but it's no guarantee the system will be properly functional the next time I reboot. 
 
+M Monica "Sometimes I notice inadvertent, side-glances; people who don't glance directly at me, but will furtively look at me and then look away, as though they're afraid of being caught staring."

If you caught me doing that to you, it would be because I think you are cute, not because you are in a wheelchair. :D

I've had that happen in person, I saw a girl in college I thought was stunning.  I kept staring and looking away but stopped and walk away when i saw her catch me and frown.  I thought crap, she probably thinks I was staring at her because she was in a wheelchair.   I being a stupid college freshman didn't have the guts to go up to her and just ask her out back then. :(
 
They are just like us and no one should be treated differently because of how they look.
 
Excellent post. Although I try to be respectful to everyone, things like this are always good reminders and pointers for us all. :)
 
Handicapped people are no different than you or I...A person confined to a wheelchair has just as much to offer as You or I who are not...shouldn't be treated different at all....just grab the handles ask them if you can push them while you talk....Just like taking a walk with someone who can walk.
 
people in wheelchairs are just like us. it makes me really angry when able bodied people park in disabled parking spaces. these areas are there specifically for disabled motorists and NO ONE ELSE SHOULD BE PARKING THERE. if u dont have a disabled parking permit then find another car park simple. some people are just too lazy to walk five feet especially smokers who break the law everyday by parking in disabled parking bays which they have NO LEGAL RIGHT TO DO AND SHOULD BE FINED AT LEAST $100 PER OFFENCE!!!!! MY WIFE IS DISABLED.
 
i agree leigh bauer people should not do that
 
I like this explanation for how to treat someone in a wheelchair.  The most respectful thing i have ever seen was how Paul Hogan treated the man in the wheelchair in the movie almost an Angel.
 
Enlightened. Next time if I see a person in wheelchair, I'm gonna use your tips and try my best to make that person feel that he/she's not special but normal like everyone and one among us. Smile. 
 
Monica I would like to thank you for sharing. Not only the tips but you as person, I´ve been following you and always make me smile your posts. Thanks again
 
Super and lovely.  Such an elegant way to say this.  Thanks!
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+M Monica : having coached athletes in wheelchairs for many years, my conversation is always about the design, the performance, etc. :)

They were part of the team, on the track everyday.
Google "Chantal Peticlerc".
P.S.: also, make sure to watch the Paralympics Games. ;)
 
Good to know this, thanks.
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+M Monica Great post, thanks for this contribution. Regarding #3 my answer to my 3-year old is usually, "Some people need help for their legs so they use a chair with wheels." Your impressions about that response?

For my own "staring" I was fascinated to watch a job candidate show up for an interview in 100 degree heat this week, pop his chair out of the back seat, and roll on up to the front door of our office without breaking a sweat. It's hard not to just give a mental "hell yeah!" when I see that. I know people don't want to be treated differently but it's totally out of amazing respect in my mind. Thoughts on that?
 
Hi  M Monica,
Just another perspective...true...most people dont' know how to approach those in wheelchairs and so...don't.  Many men...also...have difficulty approaching attractive women...and...instead of simply walking up and saying something...steal glances much the same way you have said people look at you.  From what I can see...you are in a difficult position indeed. Don't be too sure that those men that have difficulty approaching you....are constrained by your chair. You have been burdoned with a situation much more difficult for most men to handle...beauty.
To look a beautiful women in the eye takes confidence in oneself...the lack of...may present itself as discomfort with minor issues such as your wheelchair. Give those who do more credit for getting past your beauty than anything else.     k r
 
Hey, I had an ex gf in a wheelchair and I have no problem with any of this, but my dog didn't like it when she was on Crutches.
 
Monica all l see is a beautiful woman. Thank you for sharing.
 
Thanks for posting this.  It's important and well-written.  Your sense of humor (and of the absurdities of life) is a great gift.  Thank you.
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Hi thanks 4 posting this I'm on a scooter when out and i find your post rings so true thanks :-)
 
that was a great post Monica you are such a beautiful woman.
 
We're just discussing on Facebook how children are so natural at greeting folks in wheelchairs, until the adults shush them away.  My daughter became a 4-wheeler when she was 4, some 23 years ago.  Your post is very educational, kind, and spot-on.  Thank you for sharing so of yourself!
 
Life is ups and downs,any we see our self we should give thanks to God,look on Him will give endless LOVE,Cheers.
 
Its sad that people don't see you as a beautiful woman. Just because your in a wheelchair. But i do.
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I talk to disabled people just like any other person I would talk to, I get with other other wheel riders and we just talk and if the conversation comes up by the person in the wheelchair I will listen. I not ashamed by being a Disabled Veteran, but never call me Handicapped:

(handicapped person) a person who has some condition that markedly restricts their ability to function physically or mentally or socially.

(Disabled people) Disability, according to the World Health Organization, is defined as "...an umbrella term, covering impairments,...
 
hola monica no se quien heres ni tu saves quien soy.pero el que no sepa de ti ni el que no able ingles no me impide las ganas de comentarte que la imgen de tu foto es muy tierna y muy dulce.para mi es un plazer sentir ternura al verte.espero que algun dia charlemos de ti del perrito y de mi.cuidate mucho te mando un abrazo y un saludo a ti y a los tuyos ...
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hola monica no se quien heres ni tu saves quien soy.pero el que no sepa de ti ni el que no able ingles no me impide las ganas de comentarte que la imgen de tu foto es muy tierna y muy dulce.para mi es un plazer sentir ternura al verte.espero que algun dia charlemos de ti del perrito y de mi.cuidate mucho te mando un abrazo y un saludo a ti y a los tuyos ...
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JAMIFER  POET  DO  YOU  WANT TO  JOIN UP WITH  ME  TO  HAVE ROCK ROLL BAND  THE JONAS  SISTERS
 
hello  monica   how are you  doing  to  day
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La Buona Giornata Carissime e Carissimi Amici, mi trovo nel "Salento"
Puglia, una giornata Favolosa, spero lo sia anche da Voi. Ciao.
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