This blog has been written by our friends over at Diary Of A Disabled Person.
As someone who has been disabled for over a decade, that decade being a particularly pivotal one as I finished education and entered the world of work, it’s safe to say that without my various mobility aids my life would look substantially different. Without a manual, assistant-propelled wheelchair I could not have completed school, and without a powered wheelchair university and employment would have been impossible for me. Had I not had a rollator, I could not have walked down the aisle at my own wedding, and without a splint to support my wrist I could not write this article. In short, despite being deemed “too young” to be disabled, I do not feel ashamed of my various mobility aids. On the contrary, I use them with pride.
The stigma against the use of mobility aids is inflamed by media descriptions of disabled people as being confined to or bound by a wheelchair. It is baffling to me that a piece of equipment that enables me to safely leave the house is described as limiting when the opposite is true; it’s liberating. This stigma puts people off of using mobility aids, and people are often reticent to start using them. People fear that using a mobility aid is a sign of weakness, but I would argue that adapting to your body’s needs rather than hiding from them is a sign of strength.
Of course, we shouldn’t ignore that adapting to the use of a mobility aid is difficult. In many ways, starting to use a wheelchair was like learning to walk all over again; I had to learn how to open doors and reach objects from a lower angle, and had to become more aware of my turning circle so as not to run over any toes. Perhaps it was because of my youthful age, or perhaps it was because the brain is far more versatile than we give it credit for, but the learning process did not take long, and soon my wheelchair felt more like an extension of my own body than an encumbrance. Any inconveniences I encountered as I learned were easily outweighed by my reduced pain levels and increased energy.
The trickiest thing about learning to use mobility aids had nothing to do with the objects themselves, and everything to do with how common inaccessibility was. Unfortunately, being inaccessible is surprisingly common even in today’s climate, but steady improvements are being made. The discrimination I face as a wheelchair user is not insignificant, but does not even compare to being without a mobility aid.
If you think getting a mobility aid would help you, I would highly encourage at least trying something out – and if that something is a wheelchair, a cup holder is invaluable.
A huge thank you to Dax over at Diary Of A Disabled Person for writing this blog for us.