It’s that time of year when students are headed back to school and when it comes to dealing with students in wheelchairs, there are a number of things teachers and fellow able-bodied students should be aware of. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind:
The first assumption many people make when they see someone in a wheelchair is that the person requires assistance. It’s always good to ask the student if they’d like your help before giving it. Wheelchair users appreciate same level dialogue so when you engage in conversation with them for more than a minute or two, kneel down to a face to face level.
Only push a wheelchair when you are asked to.
Teachers should treat a student in a wheelchair the same way they treat all the other children in the classroom. Don’t patronize students who use a wheelchair by patting them on the head. This is a sign of affection that should be reserved for small children and most of them don’t like it. Always remember that the student’s wheelchair is a part of him/her, never lean or hang off a wheelchair.
Make sure pathways are always clear of obstructions e.g. moving the chair away from their desk or giving them plenty of room in the hallways. If spills occur, keep floors clear of liquids.
The general assumption would be that everyone would try to make the school experience for a student in a wheelchair as easy and comfortable as possible. The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) celebrates both caregivers and those with disabilities who are living active and mobile lifestyles. It’s important to remember these students aren’t any different than the other students. Though it may take a little bit of time, eventually people will see the student and not the wheelchair.
NMEDA stands as an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a wheelchair accessible car, truck or van, please consider one of our mobility equipment dealers.