+
upworthy
More

This woman compared stroller shopping to wheelchair shopping. What she found wasn't great.

Are these chairs on wheels really that different? Liz says yes.

Meet Amanda Berns. She's a caring mother to two small children and the loving daughter of a wonderful father named David LeSueur.

Amanda poses with her family. Photo via Amanda Berns.


David is a kind and optimistic man who navigates the world in a wheelchair because of multiple sclerosis.

Amanda's children are 18 months and 2.5 years old, so it probably comes as no surprise that Amanda spends most of her days pushing these two around the city in a stroller.

Upon reading the definitions for "wheelchair" and "stroller," I started to feel like they weren't really all that different.

They are both described as chairs on wheels, just intended for different people. Because I write about inclusion in retail and assistive devices, I thought it would be interesting to ask both Amanda and her dad, David, a series of questions — the exact same questions. When I posed them to Amanda, I used the word "stroller." With her father, I used "wheelchair."

Images via iStock.

My goal was to learn about what it's like to shop for these chairs on wheels. Here's how the conversation went:

Q: What's it like to navigate the world with a chair on wheels?

Amanda (stroller): It's not too bad. I go most places that I would like with two kids. There are a lot of places I can't get in or couldn't go to — but honestly I wouldn't want to bring my toddlers anyway. Sometimes it's awkward to go into places and feel like you are blocking everyone (because let's be honest — you are). But I figure I have to run errands with my kids just like the rest of the world. So I try to be kind and patient and not too annoying.

David (wheelchair): When you're in a wheelchair, people don't talk to you, generally. They treat you like you are a child. They talk to the person with you rather than talking to you. Like when walking into a restaurant to be seated, they ask the person with you how many are in the party. Or the check gets brought to someone else at the table instead of you. I can get in all public buildings, but going to people's houses is always tricky. I have to figure out beforehand if I can do it. I don't want to bother if it's not possible.

Q: How many chairs on wheels have you owned?

Amanda (stroller): I have owned ... eight? I think? Way more than I should admit.

David (wheelchair): I have owned two power chairs, one manual wheelchair, and a scooter.

Q: Why did you purchase separate ones?

Amanda (stroller): I purchased separate ones to account for different needs. I had a jogging stroller, a get-around-town stroller, an umbrella stroller for traveling. And then we had our second kid, so I needed to get a double stroller. I also bought and sold a few strollers because I had changed my mind after using them. I had a jogging stroller with a fixed wheel for two weeks and changed my mind. I got really good at buying and selling them on Craigslist.

David (wheelchair): I purchased separate ones because in each case I became weaker and needed more features. My wheelchair had to adapt to my changing abilities.

I was most struck by what they each had to say about their options when they shopped for a chair on wheels.

Amanda's response gave me a very clear picture of who she is as a person and a parent. David's response, on the other hand, left me having learned nothing about his personality and lifestyle.

It felt like Amanda was able to express herself through her purchases, but David was only able to express that he was simply a person who requires the assistance and the support of a wheelchair.

Amanda's stroller shopping narrative fits within the norm of any retail experience.

Amanda has bought and sold strollers on Craigslist. She has gone to run errands and has come home equipped with a new, store-bought stroller. I'm sure she's received at least one stroller through a baby registry. There's probably an entangled web of stroller hand-me-downs that weave her friends and family together.

Amanda and her two children at the beach. Photo provided by Amanda Berns.

Amanda anticipated that each of her children would rely on a stroller for about four years, but she also said that shopping for the chairs on wheels was really easy: "Pop into any baby store and voila!"

David's narrative, on the other hand, does not fit into a normal retail experience.

David and his grandchild. Photo via Amanda Berns.

"Insurance pays for one wheelchair every five years," David told me. "So you try to think of things you may need over the next five-year period."

This is difficult because David's disease progresses quickly. He also mentioned that ordering a wheelchair is a very slow process. "From the time we start shopping to the time I actually get my chair, it takes four to six months," he said. "And there's not much of a reason for the delay. I think there's not much competition in the wheelchair business, so they don't have any reason to rush it."

My curiosity about the assistive device market can feel confusing at times, but it turns out that this is a big problem.

When I first started thinking about why there are so few options for people with disabilities, I thought it was because so few of us exist. But in reality, our numbers are massive. At any given moment, 1 billion people on the planet have a disability. For some of us, the disability will be temporary. For others, it will change our lives.

A few years ago, the U.S. Department of Commerce published a study that stated two-thirds of the leading assistive device manufacturers were “passive in their pursuit of new ideas — or not interested at all."

This means that the companies who make products for people with disabilities do not invest in the research and development of new products.

It's my dream to change this problem.

I don't believe that I have the best idea in the world. I just have one of the only ideas out there, and it's for J.Crew to start selling stylish canes. I'd love to hear your ideas, too.

Me with my purple cane. I have spent the past 16 months asking J.Crew if they would sell a cane. It has been my goal, from day one, to ease the stigma of assistive devices.

Amanda deserves a lifetime of joy and ease. Amanda deserves to express herself in any way she sees fit. And so does her dad.

Where is the wheelchair that invites David to be looked at? That grants him the validity to say he's picking up the lunch check?

Some of the stigma lies in our perceptions of those living with disabilities. But I also believe some of the stigma lies in the design of the products we're using, too.

Amanda and her family in San Francisco. Photo via Amanda Berns.

If you think equipment for the disabled should be as diverse as their needs are, why not share this and start a conversation?



A teacher's message has gone viral after he let his student sleep in class — for the kindest reason.

Teachers spend time preparing lesson plans and trying to engage students in learning. The least a kid can do is stay awake in class, right?

Keep ReadingShow less
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Things new parents think they need but don't.

There's nothing like preparing for a new baby. The excitement and anticipation take hold and before you know what's happening, your baby registry is five pages long full of things you've probably never heard of. I've been there before, and now, four kids later, I can tell you with absolute certainty that there are tons of things you actually don't need. It's easy to get carried away when everything is so tiny and cute, especially 'cause marketing around baby stuff is bananas. The following offers some alternative items to the ones you'll likely only use a limited number of times before practicality takes over.

Keep ReadingShow less

TikTok user Absolutely Lauren catches an online scammer.

There was a massive jump in credit card fraud in America in 2021 due to the pandemic. According to CNET, fraud involving credit cards jumped 69% from 2020 to 2021, affecting 13 million Americans and costing $9 billion.

In a world where online transactions are part of everyday life, it’s hard to completely protect your information. But, by staying vigilant and monitoring your accounts you can report fraud before it gets out of hand.

A TikTok user by the name of Lauren (@absolutelylauren) from San Diego, California, got a notification that there was a $135 charge on her card at Olaplex’s online store that she hadn’t made. Olaplex sells products that repair excessively damaged hair. Before reporting the charge to her credit card company she asked her family members if they used her card by mistake.

“I don’t wanna shut my card down if it’s just my mom ordering some shampoo,” Lauren said in the video. “Definitely not my two younger brothers, they’ve got good hair but they don’t color it.”

Keep ReadingShow less
Education

12 books that people say are life-changing reads

Some books have the power to change how we see ourselves, the world, and each other.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Books are powerful.

As a participant in the Amazon Associates affiliate program, Upworthy may earn proceeds from items purchased that are linked to this article, at no additional cost to you.

Out of all human inventions, books might just be the greatest. That may be a bold statement in the face of computers, the internet and the international space station, but none of those things would be possible without books. The written recording of human knowledge has allowed our advancements in learning to be passed on through generations, not to mention the capturing of human creativity in the form of longform storytelling.

Books have the power to change our lives on a fundamental level, shift our thinking, influence our beliefs, put us in touch with our feelings and help us understand ourselves and one another better.

That's why we asked Upworthy's audience to share a book that changed their life. Thousands of responses later, we have a list of inspiring reads that rose to the top.

Keep ReadingShow less
Internet

Man breaks down how living in an all-inclusive resort is cheaper than his average apartment

"I just might find myself on a beach somewhere sucking down cocktails and WHAT OF IT."

Representative Image from Canva

Are resorts the new retirement homes?

Don’t know if you heard, but the cost of living is pretty high these days. Prices for groceries, restaurants, gas, and other necessary items just to, you know, live in the world, reaching an all time high is already making what used to be a decent wage barely enough to get by.

And let’s not forget the biggest financial whammy of all: rent prices. According to Zillow, the average rent price in the US was $1,958 ( recorded in January 2024). That a whopping 29.4% price jump since pre-pandemic times. And of course, that not even taking larger, more expensive cities into account.


It’s enough to make you wonder: “Is it actually cheaper to just live in an all-inclusive resort at this point?”
Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

Terrified, emaciated dog comes to life as volunteer sits with him for human connection

He tries making himself so small in the kennel until he realizes he's safe.

Terrified dog transforms after human sits with him.

There's something about dogs that makes people just want to cuddle them. They have some of the sweetest faces with big curious eyes that make them almost look cartoonish at times. But not all dogs get humans that want to snuggle up with them on cold nights; some dogs are neglected or abandoned. That's where animal shelters come in, and they work diligently to take care of any medical needs and find these animals loving homes.

Volunteers are essential to animal shelters running effectively to fill in the gaps employees may not have time for. Rocky Kanaka has been volunteering to sit with dogs to provide comfort. Recently he uploaded a video of an extremely emaciated Vizsla mix that was doing his best to make himself as small as possible in the corner of the kennel.

Kanaka immediately wanted to help him adjust so he would feel comfortable enough to eat and eventually get adopted. The dog appeared scared of his new location and had actually rubbed his nose raw from anxiety, but everything changed when Kanaka came along.

Keep ReadingShow less