WHAT PROBLEMS DO WHEELCHAIR USERS FACE?
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What Problems Do Wheelchair Users Face ?

Non-wheelchair users are forgetful of most of the daily challenges that those on wheelchair face. In this blog we are going to discuss on some of these problems and try to make you more aware of them, and try to find the perfect solution that works for you.

For an individual in a wheelchair or someone who needs help in order to go from one place to another, there can be a lot of challenges on a daily basis. These are just obstacles, not impossibilities, but they usually leave people in wheelchairs asking themselves questions like “Is it worth the time doing that? However, being disabled shouldn’t deprive you from doing what you love, or visiting those places you love most. 

Some of the common problems that wheelchair users face include passing through small corridors in old buildings, parking lots that are difficult to get around, even visiting loved ones or just shopping. Do not forget steep slopes or uneven surfaces that are not possible to overcome on a wheelchair. And then, you also have to go through the public transit.

Traveling through public transport can be time-consuming and problematic. Mobility is sometimes a problem for older wheelchair users. How do you go up to the next floor if the elevators are broken? Even getting on the train may seem easy, it is a lot difficult when it comes to crossing in a wheelchair and there’s always that possible of a wheel getting stuck. 

Wheelchairs are way below the normal or expected sight lines of motorists, pedestrians, and other road users and this can result to accidents if the wheelchair user do not act quickly. If all these challenges were not tough enough, those who are wheelchair bound will have to deal with the pressure the society portray towards them. 

Those who are wheelchair bound often feel ignored or even talked down to. Some able bodied individuals wrongfully think that those who are wheelchair bound should be more independent.

The following are the major problems that wheelchair users face. 

1. Transportation

We have all been faced with a situation where we can’t go to a place we want to for certain reasons. It might be as a result of your inability to drive and there is no one who can take you there in time or because you have to be in two different places at the same time. This is one of the major problems that wheelchair users face day by day. We all travel whenever and however we want, but those in wheelchairs go through a lot of difficulties before changing location or going for holidays, vacation, wedding parties and other ceremonies. Without proper assistance, going on a plane is completely impossible for a wheelchair user. 

But what if there was a way to make it all possible? With the change in technology and the introduction of new products, it is not uncommon for wheelchair users to have specially adapted vehicles to meet their individual needs. Also, able bodied people should try as much as possible to avoid using the wheelchair taxis so they can be available for wheelchair users. 

2. Toilets

Locating a toilet in a rush is one position no one wants to be in. For most people, when looking for a restroom, a restroom is a restroom and any one will do the job. For wheelchair users, finding a nice and accessible toilet can be very difficult. It all depends on where you are. If it is a new building, then there will probably be a wheelchair accessible toilet in it. 

However, the same is not applicable in the case of a building that was built in the 20th century. They may also have a ‘wheelchair toilet’ but these toilets are generally regular restrooms with a railing at the corner of the toilet but not enough space for a wheelchair user to even shut the door. 

Sometimes, there may be just one wheelchair accessible toilet in a whole building full of toilets. In an event such as this, that toilet is often at the other end of the building and making a trip to such a toilet for someone who is wheelchair bound may take much longer than an able bodied person. Just like parking spots, most people may see a wheelchair toilet as a regular toilet, leaving someone in a wheelchair to wait for hours for an able bodied person to finish, even when they could have used another toilet.

When able bodied people leave disabled toilets for those on wheelchairs, it could reduce the problems that wheelchair users face. 

3. Lifts/Ramps

Yes, this is another problem that all wheelchair users face. Lifts are very important for any individual in a wheelchair, or indeed any one who finds it hard to climb stairs, to go from one floor in a building to the next. When they are no lifts at all, someone’s confidence can fall. This implies that unless there is an individual or individuals who are kind enough and able to carry you on your wheelchair up several stairs, you in the wheelchair has no other option but to remain on level ground. This, like other earlier mentioned cases, leaves a person who is wheelchair bound not able to live an independent life that he or she deserves. 

These days, most buildings have ramps or lifts installed to enable wheelchair users to do various things that able bodied individuals can.

However, there are certain reasons why a ramp or lift may not be installed in a building:

  • The building may happen to be an ancient site and installing a lift would make it look too modern. In a case like this, ramps can always be installed but should be removable.
  • When the building isn’t able to accommodate a ramp or lift. 
  • It may be too costly to install and properly maintain a lift.

If these happen, you can ask for help and take the stairs. 

4. Streets/Paths/Roads

A crucial reason why a wheelchair user should be completely independent is having the ability to do certain things all by themselves without asking for help from someone else. This includes the ability to push their wheelchair on streets and paths.

The paths in big cities are often clean and accessible by a wheelchair. But unfortunately, the streets and paths in villages and towns can be challenging for those who are wheelchair bound to pass through. Litter, fallen branches, potholes, and obstacles such as bins can make it difficult for a wheelchair user to pass through such streets or paths. When this happens, disabled persons will have no other choice but to try to remove these obstacles or find someone to help them remove whatever blocks their way. 

If obstacles aren’t removed, a wheelchair user may be forced to leave the path and go on the main road. This isn’t just dangerous but may also not be possible as there may be no way for a wheelchair to safely leave the path. Having a completely clear path is important as it enables those in wheelchairs to use the paths more freely and to live an independent life. 

There may also be cases where the streets or paths may not be meant for wheelchair users. Chippings or cobbles can make it difficult to push a wheelchair. The continuous shaking of a wheelchair can not only be inconveniencing but can also result in a wheelchair accident. Also, it can cause damage to the wheels as the constant shaking may loosen the wheels, causing them to fall off. This struggle makes wheelchair users to go in search of softer grounds to enable them move easily. 

However, to make wheelchair users move freely, paths and streets should always be kept clean and free of litter, fallen branches and other large obstacles. 

5. Being Left Behind 

This is another serious problem that wheelchair users face on a daily basis. Most of the time, especially when traveling, the train or plane often depart while leaving wheelchair users behind. This happens due to the fact that such wheelchair users find it difficult to make it to the plane or into a train by themselves. 

Sometimes, disabled people even find it difficult to make it to the airport or train station and this always cause them to be left behind. 

6. Not being able to travel in your wheelchair

Unlike buses and trains, it is still very difficult for wheelchair users to remain in their wheelchair when they are on a plane. For people (wheelchair users) who are not physically fit to sit in a plane chair, flying could be completely impossible.

This is very difficult especially when it concerns long distance travels. Those who are wheelchair bound may not feel comfortable on a plane chair and this is a major problem.

Conclusion

Now that you know some of the problems that wheelchair users face, hopefully you will become more helpful and accommodating whenever the need arises. Help in making the world a more wheelchair-user friendly place. 

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