Part of a Whole

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

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Wit or Ignorance?

Someone made a witty comment on twitter about not trusting a man in a wheelchair with dirty shoes. It strikes me that while such a comment wasn’t intended to be mean, it shows a certain level of prejudice, or ignorance.

Here’s the actual tweet:

I guess the assumption is that someone in a wheelchair always has clean shoes, that if their shoes are dirty it means they got out of the chair and walked. Therefore they are not to be trusted.

The reality is that not everyone who uses a wheelchair is unable to walk, let alone move at all. There are many conditions that require the use of a wheelchair, where the individual can stand/hobble/walk. Their shoes will get dirty and scuffed.

But even someone who is "totally" paralysed has multiple occasions to get their shoes dirty. The most obvious (to me) situation is transferring from one’s wheelchair to one’s car. You do put your feet on the ground. If it’s raining and you’re in an outside parking lot, your feet will get wet. If it’s dry and dusty, your feet might amass crud. Mix crud from yesterday with rain from today, and you end up with muddy shoes.

Anyway – lots of possibilities there, you get the point I’m sure. I didn’t take offense, and @itsWillyFerrell didn’t mean offense. But his wit fell flat on its face for me.