Accessibility Matters

Last weekend, I brought my 8-year-old daughter to a very large museum. Though my daughter is healthy, I knew that she would get tired walking through the galleries, so I decided to borrow a wheelchair from the coat check for her. (I’d recently used one at the airport for my mother, who is elderly and frail.) We had a lovely time looking at art and returned the wheelchair a few hours later. My question: Was it OK for us to use it? We didn’t need the wheelchair, but it made our visit more comfortable and pleasant.Mom

I am in agreement with Mr. Galanes’s response and share it in in its entirety:

“I think it was a mistake to borrow a wheelchair for a child without mobility issues. Still, questions of accessibility are sometimes judgment calls, so let me take you through my reasoning, then you can decide for yourself.

Some people with disabilities need the features of accessible buildings: wheelchair ramps, for instance, or accessible bathroom stalls. But those amenities aren’t reserved for them. Assuming that no one else is using them, anyone can walk up the ramp or take the larger stall.

Likewise, it seems reasonable that your mother, whom you describe as “elderly and frail,” might need a wheelchair in an airport. But your daughter didn’t need one to get around the museum. The reality is this: Your museum plan was too ambitious for a young child.

It would have been better to plan a shorter visit that was more appropriate for her age and stamina. If another person who needed a wheelchair tried to borrow one while you had it, that person may have had to wait. You also may have sent your daughter the unintended message that the needs of the disabled are less important than your convenience.”

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6 Responses to Accessibility Matters

  1. Reaseaorg says:

    I think it depends on availability really. If there are enough wheelchairs I highly doubt all will be used. Some conditions such as ME or CFS have intermittent symptoms, so not always requiring such help but need it some of the time. I would still argue wheelchairs are important for this group too if desired 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • msw blog says:

      Yes, availability, does play a role in this scenario. The best way to address that would be for this parent to explain their reason to the staff and asking if they have enough wheelchairs available. This would show the child how to be honest, thoughtful, while asking for what they want. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wheelchairs are not just for the elderly and you never know when someone will need a wheelchair. So, if you feeling fatigue, or your child for that matter, you have a right to use one. However, I must admit that you have no idea what goes on in wheelchairs and they don’t get sanitized either. So, use at your own risk! For me it’s the cleanliness that would be my concern more than if there are enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    • msw blog says:

      You are correct there are a number of reasons for one to need a wheelchair, and yes one should always wipe down any shared equipment. I keep sanitary wipes in my bag. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You need more than wipes for those chairs. Passengers piss in those chairs. When I first became a flight attendant I’d sit in those on the jet bridge. After sitting in piss, you can’t pay me to touch one now!


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