Part of a Whole

My name is Nicolas Steenhout.
I speak, train, and consult about inclusion, accessibility and disability.

Listen to the A11y Rules Podcast.

All Wheelchair Users Look Alike, Don’t They?

Children can be so funny sometimes, it’s almost unbearable! I was at the supermarket and nearly wet myself I was laughing so hard. The poor kid that triggered laughter was not overly impressed though. Her mother thought the event quite funny.

So, there I was, looking at the selection of chocolates, pondering whether I should get some or not, and thinking about the recent changes to the Cadbury chocolate range. At this store, the chocolates at the end of an aisle. My back was to the end of the aisle. Suddenly I hear a child’s squealing "Mummy!" a couple times, and I felt the impact of a young kid running slam into my wheelchair. I turned around and saw a girl of maybe 4 or 5 years old.

She slowly looked up, frowned, and her head moved forward a little bit. She said "You’re not my mummy!". She started WAILING. "MUUUUUMMY!! MUMMYYYYYY???". The kid was obviously startled, afraid, and unhappy.

A moment later, a woman came into the aisle. She had on a dark green top, just the same shade as I was wearing. She had long dark brown hair tied in a pony tail, just like mine is. And she was in a wheelchair! I immediately understood the child’s mistake and burst out laughing. The kid ran to her mum, who also was laughing. The kid was pouting and had her arms crossed on her chest, which made it even more funny.

I grabbed the chocolate (miniature Toblerone bars), and continued shopping, laughing to myself.

I know many people think all wheelchair users look alike, but the kid should have known better. She just probably wasn’t expecting a wheelchair user with dark long hair in a pony tail to be anybody else than her mother!