Friday, 31 March 2017

I'm Not 'A Wheelchair'

Living with a disability means a whole concoction of things; yes, you actually have a disability (or a long list of them), and you find ways of adapting etc. But you also have to handle other people's views and comments (sometimes nasty and negative) on your condition. I could no doubt write a stupidly long post on what I've been told over the years about my illnesses by strangers/family/acquaintances, things that have annoyed me, that are misconceptions, or are plain rude. However I wanted to address this one thing.

I'm not 'a wheelchair.' I've never been a wheelchair, and I have no plans on becoming a wheelchair.

If you're not a wheelchair user, you probably won't have any idea what I'm on about, so let me break it down for you.

Whenever I get a train, go to a restaurant, need some kind of assistance, a member of staff/waiter/whatever, refers to me as 'a wheelchair.' Not a wheelchair user, not a woman in a wheelchair, not a person. A bloody chair. Now, don't get me wrong, I love my wheels, I don't know what I'd do without them, they're a massive part of me and my life, but they aren't who I am.

I get that it's quicker and easier to say 'a wheelchair' but it's actually quite offensive, demeaning and stripping me of my identity. Whoever it is that refers to me (and other wheelchair users) as 'a wheelchair' doesn't realise that they're actually saying/implying that I'm an inanimate object. I'm not a person, I don't exist, there's just a wheelchair rolling around on it's own, getting trains, going out for meals, having the time of it's life. Now, all I can picture is my powerchair as a Transformer...

It never used to bother me. The first time it happened I thought I'd misheard but then it happened again. And again. And again. And still does. I just find it really impolite and impersonal. Disabled people are already second-class citizens and this terminology only highlights that. It also proves that some people simply don't know how to address disabled people.

Also, whilst we're here, can we stop with 'wheelchair-bound' and 'confined to a wheelchair', please!? I'm not strapped into my wheelchair and unable to ever get out of it. I'm allowed to sit in other chairs, I even sit on my sofa. All these terms are really offensive and outdated. I prefer being referred to as a 'wheelchair user' or 'person in a wheelchair.' Obviously that's my personal preference and everyone is different, but these terms are much more accepted to the wider community.

So, basically, I'm not a wheelchair, I have no inclination to go under the knife and wake up with tyres.

I'm Sarah and I'm a wheelchair user.


  1. Although I myself am not in a wheelchair it also reminded me of how often I feel as though people don't see me as a person (especially doctors). I'm Rebecca, I'm not just Fibromyalgia.

    1. Exactly, you're so much more than your illness x

  2. I'm shocked that people actually say that to you. Another well-written post x

  3. I can't believe people actually say stuff like that to you - that's disgusting behaviour! I'm so glad you've written this post, I'm not a wheelchair user so this isn't something I would have experienced before or noticed and I'm glad you've opened my eyes to it.

    Ali :) Ali Caitrin

    1. Thank you, Ali. It happens so often and it always annoys me x

  4. You're a queen! I loved this post people are right little pricks sometimes xx

  5. Thank you for sharing your experience xo

  6. Well said! I hear it so often on the bus, you're 100% right and it's a shambles.
    Hopefully people will start getting the message by bloggers like you, who are spreading the message and awareness xxx

    The Frugal Teen |


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