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Daily Life Problems Faced by Wheelchair Users (in Public Places)

problems faced by wheelchair users
Samyak Lalit
Samyak Lalit | August 1, 2018 (Last update: January 28, 2023)

Samyak Lalit is an author and disability rights activist. He is a polio survivor and the founder of projects like Kavita Kosh, Gadya Kosh, TechWelkin, WeCapable, Dashamlav and Viklangta Dot Com. Website: www.lalitkumar.in

A wheelchair makes a lot of differences in the life of its users. Obviously, there are many positive differences if you look from the viewpoint of the person for whom wheelchair is the only mode of mobility. But, there are lots of daily life problems that every wheelchair user has to face. Interestingly, a lot of these difficulties are created due to people’s perception and behavior towards wheelchair-users rather than the wheelchair itself.

Let us have a look at some of the daily life problems to which every wheelchair user can relate to.

Daily Life Problems Faced by Wheelchair Users

1. Dirty Hands with Blisters

Any wheelchair user who uses her manual wheelchair to go out of her home can vouch for this fact. Our hands and nails often get dirty and there are times when we have to deal with blisters on our palms. But, we will certainly choose these blisters over the home confinement. Wheelchair hand gloves can be of help in mitigating this problem.

2. Irritating horns of restless drivers

Wheelchair users certainly need extra time to get on and off their cars. And so they are the ones who always have to deal with restless drivers blowing horns behind their vehicles. Your continuous horn cannot give the wheelchair user magical power to fly away, it can only make many of them nervous. So, be a little patient when you see a wheelchair user getting on or off a car in front of you.

3. Inaccessible ramps

Stairs on the entrance of a public place are not as irritating as the inaccessible ramps!

As wheelchair users, we try to gather prior information about the accessibility of the place. If there are no ramps, you’ll get clear information that the place is inaccessible. But, we often have to deal with situations where we are informed that the place has got ramps and is accessible for wheelchair users.

problems faced by wheelchair users

But when we actually arrive at the place, we get to see that the ramp itself is inaccessible. Sometimes the ramp starts after 2-3 stairs (I wonder why?), sometimes they are too narrow for normal-sized wheelchairs and most of the times the gradient of the ramp is too steep for self-propelled wheelchairs.

3. Getting Stuck into Narrow Doors

Not all buildings are constructed with the standard size doors. So, if you are in a wheelchair, you are always at the risk of getting stuck in one or the other doorway. Most of the time this happens in toilets of public buildings. Even the lavatories made especially for wheelchair users have such a narrow door that no wheelchair can pass through easily. And if the door is equipped with spring hinges, you cannot even think about getting in or out without help.

4. We Become Invisible

Not literally. But wheelchair users often come across situations where they are treated as invisible beings. We often meet persons who are eager to know about us or need to ask us a question but instead of asking us directly they choose to talk to anybody who is with us. Hey buddy! You can talk directly to the person sitting in a wheelchair and get your appropriate answer.

5. The Race for Getting into the Lift (Elevator)

Nowadays lots of places are equipped with lifts, and that’s a good thing. But, every wheelchair user needs to race with people, who can easily climb stairs, to get into the lift.

Ironically, we often meet people who give their kind suggestion that we should let others go first because the wheelchair will take more space and we can also get hurt!

6. The Struggle for Parking the Vehicle

Yes most of the public / commercial places have parking for disabled near the entrance and these parking areas are bigger in size to make it easier for a wheelchair user to get in and out easily. We always find the so-called able-bodied persons bitching about these special parking areas for disabled people. But, do we actually get these parking space easily? Most of the time… No! Many able-bodied people have the tendency to park their vehicle in these reserved space. And, this creates a problem for the actual wheelchair users.

If we as a society start thinking rationally, most of these problems of wheelchair users can be solved without creating any disturbances in the society. If you can’t make life easier for the wheelchair users, please stop making it more difficult by taking up reserved parking spaces or pushing them out from the lift to get in yourself.

And, if you are a wheelchair user, you can share your daily life problems with us. Thank you for connecting with WeCapable!

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9 responses to “Daily Life Problems Faced by Wheelchair Users (in Public Places)”

  1. Avatar Christine Dubauskas says:

    Where I live I get refused service if I’m unable to get into a shop. I can only access a few places as Wingham is a heritage-listed town that doesn’t include changes. The park has a disabled toilet that you have to get up a hill to require a key for. Many times I’ve had no option but to wet myself. I’m finding there aren’t enough footpaths too.

    • Lalit Kumar Lalit Kumar says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience Christine. Problems of persons with disabilities are more or less same all over the world. I hope your locality soon provides you better access.

  2. Avatar Felixia Wong says:

    Hai, may I know who is the writer for this article? I want to include the writer’s name in my references. Thankyou.

  3. Avatar Ulrey Menhagan says:

    Being in a wheelchair with no left leg often get’s people just ignoring me. One time, while crossing the street, I took so long, someone just pushed me off it. People also look at me like an alien

  4. Avatar Miss D says:

    Hello,
    My name is Miss D and I am looking to help make the things better for wheelchair users. I have had my stint with walkers and wheelchairs myself. Fortunately, I am able to walk right now. I’m not too sure about the future. I agree that there are issues. Personal experience has brought me to this place.
    Here it is I am looking for your legitimate gripes about being in your chair. I want to make a solution for wheelchair users.
    I can see that fitting in doorways is a big issue.
    Also not being able to be as fast as someone who walks.
    What about not being able to reach for something? Or be tall enough? What can be done, so you can be more independent?

    • Avatar Matilda says:

      You should talk to an occupational therapist about such changes. They are skilled at environmental and lifestyle adaptation, as well as mobilizing community efforts to create needed changes to increase accessibility to different spaces. They can assess homes and local areas to see if they meet accessibility standards. If you’re in America anyways. Or you can reach out to different organizations that deal with such things to see if there are any groups who are currently trying to make changes.

  5. Avatar Pat says:

    My brother is in a manual wheelchair and has experienced ridiculous wait times to get brakes replaced and service people to come to his home to adjust his chair. Most people don’t realize that each chair is customized for the user and you just can’t loan him one while they take several weeks to fix his…gotta be a solution!

  6. Avatar Anne Ianno says:

    I have been in my wheelchair for a year now. And it is too small for me. Which is giving me a lot of pain. I need to get something big. Oh by the way I don’t have a right leg any more.And I don’t know how to get a bigger chair. My pain is a constant stage. I can’t even get out of bed. I am ready having a hard time daily with sleep. Please help me

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