Saturday, May 15, 2010


I love to give feedback. It can be positive or negative, people can ask for it or not, ... It's somewhat funny because growing up I was much different. I was the very shy kid in groups, and would sit in groups and spend a whole lot of time thinking of what I could say, and not say anything. And now, I don't think that way. I let things come to me and then I communicate them.

So very recently, the Christopher Reeves Foundation posted the top 10 things that irritate people who use wheelchairs. I thought the list was pretty interesting and for the most part, fell in line with what I thought. I sent an email to a friend asking if she had seen this. Yes, she had - but she asked if I had noticed all the comments! Of course I hadn't, so I went back.

What happened with this top 10 was not any kind of education, of people thinking wow, I hadn't thought of that. What happened seemed to be people drawing distinct sides which didn't seem relevant to the topic. There were 2 of the top 10 I remember well.

People who use wheelchairs are irritated at the number of people who use acessible parking spaces when they shouldn't. This was taken to mean, by some, that only people with wheelchairs should use these spots. So a bunch of people commented that they needed the spots too. The article didn't say only people in wheelchairs should use the spot. What irritates me, as a person who mainly uses a wheelchair out in public, is when I see someone tear into an accessible spot, leap out with a huge stack of papers and very high heels, and run into a building. Or, I get annoyed at my daughter's dance when the spots are used as drop-off spots, when there is a drop-off location.

People who use wheelchairs were also irritated by the use of accessible restrooms by people not needing them. Mass confusion! Major discussion of bladder control and the lack of understanding behind it. And I just thought I get annoyed if someone is using the stall as a dressing room, or likes the extra space. Plenty of people apologize to me for using those stalls and they explain they have bad knees or something which is usually obvious.

So then I was left puzzled. This column, meant to educate, instead just created a ton of postings. Given that, I didn't post there. What I am left thinking is how this education could have been done better, so it didn't create such bitterness everywhere.

When we educate surrounding all kinds of diversity, not just disability, it sometimes really turns people off, or can simply feel like preaching to the choir, when I think what is really wanted is simple acceptance and basic understanding. We seemed to have that at a point, but recently we seem to be drifting...

What people may not quite understand is that the first time something happens, well that's ok. The second time - mild irritation. By the 10th time, it's like a boiling pot of water about to overflow. And then the water overflows and education becomes frustration and taken to mean all these people are angry and bitter.

So, educating before the boiling point...

when we're already drifting...

in search of peace...

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