International Wheelchair Day takes place on March 1 every year, and aims to celebrate the positive aspects of being in a wheelchair. It also works to raise awareness of the millions of people whose lives would be improved considerably by a wheelchair, but do not have access to one. 

The other aim of the project is to recognise the contribution of people who supply wheelchairs and work hard to make the world a more accessible place. There is no denying that using a wheelchair can present certain challenges, and it is important to tackle some of the negative stereotypes associated with wheelchair users. 

Many people who use wheelchairs still make an active contribution to society, and thousands more could do so if they were given a fairer opportunity.  People with restricted mobility often face prejudices in society and in the way they are portrayed in the media, either unintentionally or deliberately. 

The Christopher Reeve Foundation discusses some of the most common stereotypes faced by people with disabilities. Christopher Reeve was an actor best known for playing the role of Superman, who severely damaged his spinal cord after falling off a horse in 1995. He was left severely paralysed, but still made a very positive contribution during the rest of his life.

He became a committed disability rights activist, and also continued to work in film and the media. However, it is important to avoid typecasting all disabled people as brave or inspirational, even if this is meant to be celebratory. 

While it does take a lot of effort to live life with restricted mobility, expecting a person to be brave 100% of the time is also unfair and dehumanising. People in wheelchairs experience just the same human emotions as anyone else and this needs to be recognised. They are unique individuals with their own opinions, preferences and experiences.

Other common attitudes often experienced by wheelchair users include the assumption that they also have communication difficulties. They often find that able bodied people raise their voice when addressing them, as if they must be hard of hearing. 

In some cases, a person may address a third party who is standing by, rather than speak directly to the wheelchair user. Further common annoyances include being congratulated for being out and about, as if living their lives as anybody else would is an unusual achievement. 

In many cases, the attitudes to disability may be well intended but misguided. However, disabled people can also face deliberate discrimination or harassment. This could be in the form of taunting or jokes, or through failing to make reasonable adjustments to provide equal access in public spaces, such as shops, workplaces, or educational institutions.

The Equality Act 2010 offers legal protection against unlawful discrimination against disabled people, whether direct or indirect. The Citizen’s Advice website has further helpful information about exactly what is classed as discrimination, and what action can be taken when it occurs.

If you are looking for a KWK powerchair, please get in touch with us today.