Some of the typical issues that wheelchair users have include small corridors in older buildings, parking lots that are challenging to get around, even just shopping or going to visit loved ones. Don’t forget uneven surfaces or steep slopes that are impossible to self-propel a manual wheelchair. And then there is public transit.
Traveling on public transit can be very challenging and time-consuming in the best of circumstances. It would be impossible otherwise. How to do you get to the different levels if the elevators are out? Even though the gap between the train and the platform is easy to step over, it can be very tricky to cross in a wheelchair and there is always the possibility of the wheels getting stuck.
Then there are the problems of pressure sores or muscle cramps developing because of long periods of sitting. Wheelchairs are below the expected or normal sight lines of pedestrians, motorists and other road users and accidents can result if the wheelchair user or those around don’t react quickly enough. If all of those challenges weren’t tough enough, wheelchair users have to deal with the attitude of the society towards them.
Able bodied people find it difficult seeing line through the wheelchair user. Wheelchair users often feel talked down to or even ignored. Some able bodied people wrongfully think that the wheelchair user should be more independent.
Some daily problems that wheelchair users encounter include:
1. Dirty hands as a result of pushing themselves in a manual wheelchair.
Dirtying of hands as a result of pushing one’s own wheelchair forward is one such issue. If sanitary equipment is not at one’s frequent disposable, it may result in serious health disorders as individuals eat or drink with the same dirt intact. Additionally, one must also consider that many individuals – especially those below the poverty line, who are most likely to use manual instead of automated wheelchairs – lack the monetary capacity to fund frequent sanitation against the dirtying of hands. This exacerbates the spread of germs to those they come into contact with.
2. Mirrors are not usually at their height.
With mirrors usually above or below the average wheelchair level, those handicapped find it unable to smoothly conduct their daily activities, i.e., such as shopping and getting dressed. This reinforces the notion that society must work on its inclusivity agenda.
3. Public transits aren’t usually set up for disabled people.
Setting up public transits for those with disabilities appears to be a hefty infrastructural cost in developing countries like Pakistan. Publicthe majority does not motion them transits are barely adequate to accommodate the rather mobile populace. Additionally, such reformations remain wholly under-considered since they are not motioned by the majority.
With buses, the pressure of testing out a wheelchair ramp amidst peak hours is known to distress those with disabilities, often compelling them to abandon the use of buses altogether. What must also be noted is that most buses like the inbuilt ramps, boasting staircases that further disadvantage those with disabilities instead.
5. Should they give up space on the bus for a stroller?
Another prominent debate that sprouts up with regards to bus usage is whether or not spaces for strollers be given precedence over spaces occupied by wheelchairs. As such, one may argue that parents can manage to coddle their toddlers in their arms, whilst those on wheelchairs are often far too old to be coddled around.
6. Dealing with people who abuse WHEELCHAIR parking spaces.
Dealing with individuals who abuse wheelchair spaces is a recurring issue that state and private authorities majorly overlook – be it at outside hospitals, shopping malls, or recreation zones. Problematically, these parking spaces are either not labeled as spots for wheelchairs or individuals buy their way through parking spots disgruntling a minority that already has far too few privileges in its name.
7. The dirty looks you get when you drive into a handicap parking spot.
Social stigmas also appear to be a permanent hindrance to handicappers’ standards of living; glares, pinpointing, and public lampooning all frequently manifest as handicappers drive into public parking spots. Often, this disincentivizes them from availing such exclusive facilities, driving them towards social isolation in the long run, and adversely impacting their mental health.
8. The look people give you for doing the most mundane things like getting gas.
Even when those with disabilities try to break through barriers and embark on the route of self-sufficiency and henceforth fulfill the simplest of tasks – i.e., filling gas – public displays of pity and undesired attention discourage them from continuing with such lifestyles.
9. Having to let other people know you are OK constantly!
What intensifies their aggravation is responding to tedious “Are you ok,” questions – often reiterated formalities. Those with disabilities are hence placed under the spotlight and forced to answer in the affirmative, or else they would stimulate congregations of despairing audiences.
10. Answering ridiculous questions like “Do you have a job?”
Invasive questions add to their perturbation: be these questions inquiring into their employment, education, or marital status, they all equally hurt those with disabilities who are indirectly reminded of their inadequacy to contribute to and fulfill a layman’s daily tasks.