For disabled people with mobility impairments, a wheelchair can be a life-changing, independence-building piece of equipment. However, even those with access to a chair often find themselves held up and held back by inaccessible environments. Oftentimes, people without disabilities take for granted the ability to move about freely without fear of obstruction. On the other hand, many wheelchair users spend hours planning a route and researching ADA regulations only to meet unexpected delays or inaccurate accessibility information around every corner.
Whether you know a disabled person personally or simply care about the safety and comfort of wheelchair users in your community, understanding the day-to-day obstacles they encounter is critical. That way, you can advocate for their rights and support their independence without overstepping. Read on to learn about five typical barriers wheelchair users come up against on a daily basis.
Transporting a bulky wheelchair from place to place
Hauling heavy chairs to and from public places is particularly challenging and often impossible for many mobility-impaired individuals. Though restrictions and requirements vary from person to person, many feel bogged down and stripped of independence by difficult-to-operate chairs.
To reduce day-to-day limitations, many people who use wheelchairs opt for lightweight, foldable options like those from So Lite Mobility. With a lightweight wheelchair for their mobility needs, wheelchair users can enjoy ease of transportation, the ability of self-propulsion, and boosted confidence. With these benefits in mind, this mobility aid type reigns supreme as a top-tier choice for the mobility impaired.
Navigating rugged walkways
Another obstacle wheelchair users consistently face is worn-down, difficult-to-navigate public sidewalks and walkways. Between cracked pavement, cobblestone paths, and high curbs, operating a wheelchair on uneven ground is an accident waiting to happen. Not to mention, some cities have areas without sidewalks, creating even more danger during a seemingly simple outing. Additionally, unexpected obstructions like construction and unruly weather can throw a wrench into a wheelchair user’s route, setting them back significantly or causing complete cancellations.
Inaccessible public spaces and transport
In addition to poorly maintained walkways, public spaces and transport are often poorly designed to aid disabled people. Wheelchair users frequently report missing or unstable ramps, broken-down elevators or bus lifts, and narrow hallways impeding their path and causing significant inconveniences. On top of consistently sub-par modifications, many disabled folks scour the internet for accessibility information only to show up and discover inaccuracies and inaccessibility.
The physical toll of wheelchair use
Although wheelchairs are primarily helpful and freeing for mobility-impaired folks, operating a chair often comes with a hidden physical cost. For those with manual models, the energy exerted to propel themselves forward can be taxing, especially if they struggle with dexterity, fatigue, or weakness. Additionally, joint pain and muscle soreness are typical side effects of consistent wheelchair use, particularly for those without access to comfortable, higher-quality chairs.
Interacting with inconsiderate people
Between illegally occupying accessible parking spaces, hogging larger bathroom stalls, and asking uncomfortable, invasive questions, non-disabled people often add ableist fuel to the fire. Unfortunately, many disabled folks are consistently inconvenienced and blockaded by unassuming strangers who don’t understand how to interact with wheelchair users respectfully. Though it may seem like consistent offers for assistance or personal inquiries into their medical history is acceptable, it’s often an upsetting and frustrating situation for disabled people to navigate.
For every example above, a dozen more obstacles impede the progress and independence of disabled folks. Unfortunately, people with disabilities—particularly immobile folks—face corporate, medical, and public hurdles regularly. To help break-down ableist mindsets and inaccessible spaces, make sure you advocate for people with disabilities in your personal life and community.