Ever wonder why people in wheelchairs or scooters aren't in clothing stores other than the outer aisles? Yes, that's right folks, ADA does not require adequate space between clothing racks, and often there are only about 20 inches, meaning only the smallest of scooters and wheelchairs will fit and average ones will not. Thus even brand new department stores don't allow enough space and stick those cute wheelchair stickers on their front doors, as if people can actually shop. And they stick benches underneath the wheelchair access button so you can't actually reach it from a wheelchair or scooter. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.
Twice I've been yelled at--no, taunted is more accurate--in my scooter for not turning my body around to look at someone when they're talking to me, once by someone with a disability. I physically can't do this, but rather than recognize the impossibility of movement, people choose to make assumptions and take it as an act of rudeness or personal affront. When I stand up, I can turn my whole body to face someone, but I can't turn my torso and can't turn my head over my shoulder, though I can look sideways, unless I have too much neck spasm that day. Twist backwards, though, no. That takes a lot of physical ability. I've also had people say hello to me from behind or start discussions and not realize I often can't know who it is. It's odd to me I have to point this out. Much more appreciated are the people who call my name if needed and then come into my line of view to greet me. I'm grateful for that kind of awareness. Why do people assume someone in a scooter is physically able to any particular degree? This applies to other functional limitations, too, such as the ability to reach or carry or open.
Often I see a lack of awareness from other people with disabilities, which appalls me. Even if the level of disability is far less, surely there's got to be some judgment free awareness of physical limitation? (More than just not parking on the access aisles...). It's not wheelchair versus scooter, canes versus wheels and a matter of who has more difficulty getting around. People shouldn't take advantage of others with disabilities (dashing in front of someone in checkout, refusing to hold the door for someone else when it's possible, impeding someone else's path, taking the van accessible parking space when the regular space would do for your compact car).
Along these lines, I came across a short essay written by a doctor who uses a Segway to get around. I had thought about the practicality of this a few years ago, when walking was sometimes very difficult but standing in one place could be okay for a while. They do have some very practical applications for people with disabilities and temporary impairments, especially in places that are inaccessible to wheels users, such as clothing stores. You can maneuver more tightly and see what's ahead (something I, as a tall person, miss doing). This particular doctor, Peter Poullos, experienced a spinal cord injury. He had trouble getting around in his wheelchair in Europe (hello, cobblestones). After seeing other people on Segways, he tried one out and found it meets more of his needs. But even when self-identifying his disability, he gets questioned and bullyied for using it. Even now that he's added the universal wheelchair symbol to the front, the bullying hasn't stopped. One group of teenagers tried to knock him off of it to see if it really would balance.
The reaction he receives when he confronts people is the same reaction I sometimes receive when defending myself: "how was I supposed to know?"
You can know, by observing.