I travelled last week with a person who is using a wheelchair. This wasnâ€™t our first time doing this. Iâ€™m not sure if the treatment of her is worse this year or if Iâ€™m just noticing it more.
She is able to stand and walk but for long walks – like airports and conference halls – a wheelchair is best. Iâ€™ll be listing our issues through the week.
- Going through security at the airport – Agents asked me (not her) if she was able to stand and walk through the screening. This happened every time someone had a question.
- When ordering food in the airport I had to buy hers because they couldnâ€™t understand that we wanted to order separately. I guess they decided that I was her caretaker and was handling the money.
- The jetways have ramps but we needed to go backwards to get the wheelchair up them. I almost dumped her out when I hit the first one going forward.
- We have to go through a temperature measuring line before going into the conference. The stanchions arenâ€™t far enough apart to make the turns with the wheelchair.
- There was a bathroom door in a restaurant that she couldnâ€™t open without getting out of the chair. In that bathroom the disabled stall had a large decorative basket taking up the space so the wheelchair didnâ€™t fit inside.
- We had to fold up the chair to get between tables at one restaurant.
- A security guard asked me if she had her pass when she couldnâ€™t see it instead of addressing her.
- I bought every meal. We couldnâ€™t decide if people thought I was her caretaker, Mom, or both.
- A hostess addressed her (WIN) to ask her if she needed a childrenâ€™s menu. Sheâ€™s 26 years old.
- In bathrooms the paper towels are far away from the sink so she needs to get a towel first if she doesnâ€™t want to roll the chair with wet hands.
- Sometimes she canâ€™t reach the soap dispensers.
- We need to order SUVs from ride sharing apps to accommodate the chair. It is twice as expensive. One time we ordered just a regular ride because we weren’t taking the chair and got an SUV anyway.
- The carpet in the conference center is hard to roll on
- On our last flight the gate agent insisted that she was going to change our seats from 2 window seats – that we paid extra for – in order for us to sit side by side. We said no because neither one of us wanted a middle seat for a long flight. She insisted. I said, “Don’t change those seats.” She looked at me, cut her eyes over to the wheelchair, looked back at me, and whispered, “You need to sit together.” I informed her that this was our fourth flight that week and we hadn’t sat together even once. Somehow everyone was still alive.
[…] I would recommend this book to everyone, especially people who haven’t had the experience of having a disability or knowing someone with a disability that changes the way that they interact with the world. I have had a small taste of this when I broke my pelvis and used a motorized scooter in grocery stores. People were quite mean. I totally did not expect that. I also wrote about experiences traveling with a coworker who uses a wheelchair sometimes and the issues tha…. […]
Good golly. What a lot of unnecessary hassles. And who puts a decorative basket in a bathroom stall??
Great post and so important! Using a wheelchair does not mean the person is young, stupid, incapable, or invisible. What a frustrating daily existence for her based on other people’s issues.