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Man sitting in a wheelchair grabbing his handlebars

Handicap 101: How to push my wheelchair

A few days ago I watched a video on the YouTube channel “Wheelsnoheels” regarding 10 things you should know about pushing a wheelchair. I realised that I might write a post about that topic because I encountered some of the problems mentioned in the video in the past. So here we go: 10 things you should know when you push my wheelchair!

Normally I will push myself with the aid of my assistive e-motion drive. But sometimes I will need your help, let’s say when the batteries are drained or I’m exhausted. After adjusting the handlebars of my wheelchair to your height, we are good to go! So here are some guidelines to help us having a great time together. Let’s go!

Be aware, be careful.

  1. Safety first! Please wait until I fastened my seatbelt. I was dumped out of wheelchair twice. I can tell you that it’s not an experience I want to repeat.
  2. Never let go! You control where I’m going. Letting me go without telling me might end up with me crashing into something or someone.
  3. Concentrate on pushing! It may go without saying but I was actually pushed against a wall. It happened when my partner was concentrating on her cellphone.
  4. Up and down curbs. It’s easiest to use the tapered edge of a curb to cross a street. But there is none, follow this routine: to go down, push my wheelchair to the edge of the curb. Tilt me into a wheelie position. Push me slowly over the edge, tilt me back and continue pushing. To go up, push my wheelchair to the edge of the curb, tilt me back into the wheelie position and place the front wheels on the sidewalk. Push me up and forward. It needs some practise, but we will manage!
  5. Breaks off! While standing anywhere, I usually put my brakes on. Please don’t push me while the brakes are on or I’m trying to put them off. It’s quite painful to get your fingers caught between the spokes.
  6. Handle with care! Regardless if you’re pushing me or you’re handling my wheelchair in other ways (put it back into my car or store it somewhere): remember that my wheelchair is my second pair of legs (the better working one). If you damage my wheelchair, it’s my problem.

Be social, be inclusive.

  1. Be aware of the people surround us. Try to remember that you can’t see my feet and the foot rest, but they are still there and might hurt people if you’re pushing the foot rest into their heels. Also, people usually don’t look down and might not see me. Pushing my wheelchair in front of walking people might hurt them or topple me over.
  2. Having conversations: we might have a conversation going, but remember that you’re behind and above me. Please talk a little bit louder so that I can understand you properly. Also, if you stop and have a conversation with other people, please turn me around so I can participate in the conversation or at least see who you are talking to. I’m not a piece of furniture which can be left at the sidewalk.
  3. Catchword Wheelie: NEVER EVER approach me from behind and tilt me into the wheelie position without telling me or “to surprise me”. It isn’t funny, it hurts me and it’s totally disrespectful. You’re literally treating me like a rag doll and think it’s fun to hurt me. Seriously?!
  4. Include me. If it’s possible, take me with you! I like an extended walk outdoors, and I definitely love to go shopping. But if the shop is accessible, just don’t leave me at the front door like a dog. If you want to have drink, try to find a spot where I can see you and talk to other people. Why shouldn’t I be social with others while you are?

These are my 10 points you should consider before pushing me. It’s not that hard, and you will learn with every time you will push me. This list was inspired by Wheelsnoheels video “10 THINGS♿️ YOU MUST KNOW BEFORE PUSHING A WHEELCHAIR!“.

Luckily, thanks to my assistive e-motion drive I won’t need your help every time I’m out with my wheelchair. But if we both are on the road together, it will be more fun for both of us if you’re aware of some guidelines before. I will be most grateful for your help!

So what do you think?! I definitely will continue the Handicap 101 series with more posts about interacting with handicapped people. So if you’ve questions or are otherwise interested in posts about inclusion, ask me. Write me in the comments, I love to get some feedback!

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