People in wheel chairs should be considered and treated just like individuals who are not in wheel chairs. People should learn to respect people who are using a wheel chair by providing them with fair treatment. Special attention is not necessary because it will only worsen their emotional stability. How do you communicate with individuals in wheel chairs? Here are some techniques to show respect without hurting their ego:
- Do not mind the wheel chair or any mobility products or parts. This technique may be difficult, but it’s the best way to establish rapport with the person. Avoid looking at the rider and the wheel chair with a sad and sympathetic eye. If you are not close to the person or if that is your first meeting, do not ask him to elaborate on his disability. Start topics about games and education. If he starts talking about his disability, do not focus on the incident. Focus on the feelings of the individual. Be able to know how he feels about it and how he wants people to react about it. Boost his morale by challenging him. On the other hand, do not give him a challenge that may hurt his feelings like playing basketball. Never show too much sympathy. Peoplein mobility scooters hate too much sympathy.
- Ask before doing anything. Do not offer something that is not needed. Ask the individual in the chair if he or she wants or needs help before giving it. Doing anything that is not asked is like showing to the face of the person his disability. Allow him to do what he or she wants. Give him the freedom to do anything. Do not be a barrier for his free movement. If you brag about giving help (e.g. providing ramps, vans or lift rental), the higher the chance that he will get irritated with you. Your motive to “help” may be a way for him to hate your presence.
- Always keep in mind that the wheel chair is the person’s body part and not one of his accessories. Thus, you have no right to lean on the chair. Respect the wheel chair, as you want your body organs to be respected by others.
- Sit down. The key to good communication is eye-to-eye contact. You can level your eyes with the individual by sitting down. The chance of having a stiff neck is also reduced by sitting down. In short, if you want to be comfortable, sit down.
- If someone is standing next to the one who is in an electric wheel chair, talk to the assistant for a few minutes but do not let the one in the transport chair in a handicap van be outside the conversation. Make sure that both of them are given parts in the conversation.
If you want to reduce your awkward moments in communicating with people in a wheel chair, just follow the techniques listed above and you will surely win their friendship.