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wheelchair

A wheelchair user offered some helpful tips for how to interact with them in daily life.

One of the best things about social media—besides the hilarious cat videos—is how it gives us all an opportunity to learn from one another. The ability to share an experience or a piece of wisdom or advice and have it be carried far and wide can be incredibly useful, especially when it comes from someone whose voice may not be heard as often as it should.

A perfect example is a recent thread by Ada Hubrig (@AdamHubrig) on Twitter explaining how and how not to interact with a person in a wheelchair. Hubrig says using a wheelchair has been "life-changing in the best way" for them, but the way they are treated when they are using a wheelchair can be annoying, frustrating, hurtful or just downright weird.

Some people don't have regular interactions with people who use wheelchairs and may have questions about what's appropriate and what's not. Some people might make assumptions about people using wheelchairs or be completely oblivious to how their prejudices are impacting their behavior. Hubrig's thread not only clarified some common issues wheelchair users deal with, but also opened up the conversation for people to ask some of the less obvious questions.


Hubrig opened their thread by explaining that they actually love their wheelchair, as they can't stand or walk for more than 10 minutes without it. However, they loathe how people treat them when they're using it.

Then they shared some tips on how to do better:

"First, remember that wheelchair users are people," they wrote. "We are more similar to you than different, we're just sitting down while you're standing up. You're likely around other people who are sitting as you stand all the time. Don't make it weird."

"Second, remembering that we're people, respect our autonomy," they continued. "If we're speaking and you have a question for me, don't ask my partner who is standing. As an example, medical professionals will often ask my partner my symptoms when I am RIGHT THERE. Please notice us."

The third piece of advice was to never touch a person's wheelchair or other mobility or medical advice unless you have been given permission. Hubrig said that people will often just roll them out of the way.

Yeah, don't do that. You wouldn't pick up a standing person and move them out of the way (hopefully). Same concept.

Hubrig went on to explain that no one is entitled to anyone else's medical history or trauma. "I get that you may mean well, but asking 'what happened' can be more difficult for some people than you realize," they wrote. "It's a lot of emotional labor to answer."

On a related note, don't ask about people's genitals. Ever. Seriously.

A tip for parents: "Please don't let your kids crawl on me or my wheelchair. My wheelchair isn't a toy."

"I like kids mostly, I do," Hubrig wrote. "But even if we weren't in a pandemic, I don't want any stranger up in my personal space like that. Once a kid ripped my ostomy bag off me. No plz."

Also, don't make judgments about a person's need for the wheelchair. "Some wheelchair users, like myself, don't use the wheelchair full time," Hubrig wrote. "I can walk/stand about ten minutes at a time, and use a cane for short distances. If you see a wc user standing/using a cane/whatever, don't assume we're faking. We don't use a wc for fun."

Not being believed can be a major barrier to people with disabilities utilizing the tools they need to live as fully and functionally as possible. "I have talked to many people whose life would be better with a mobility device but they don't use one. Because of how we treat people who use mobility devices."

That is a tragedy.

Finally, Hubrig summed up the basics:

"1.) Wheelchair users/disabled people ARE people. Act as such.

2.) Mind your business."

Seems simple enough, but as we all know, humans have a remarkable ability to not follow simple instructions.

Another person who uses a wheelchair, @FabledFelts, added a few more tips.

One of the common questions well-meaning people had was whether or not they should offer to help a person in a wheelchair if it appears they are struggling. On the one hand, you don't want to assume someone needs help just because they're in a wheelchair, but on the other, you don't want to leave them struggling if they do need help.

The consensus was that asking if someone needs help is almost always appropriate. Just don't assume they need help and jump in without asking (barring any obvious emergencies, of course).

Another question some had was whether it's appropriate to lean over or kneel down to talk to someone in a wheelchair. On the one hand, it might feel more respectful to put yourself on the same eye level as the person in the chair. On the other hand, you don't want to make them feel like you're infantilizing them. (This question was asked by a person who is hard of hearing, which adds another layer to the question as that's an accommodation that needs to be considered as well. But it was also asked by someone who simply wanted to know which wheelchair users preferred.)

Responses from wheelchair users varied a bit, but most agreed that standing was fine for brief exchanges, but pulling up a chair to talk to them at a similar height was appreciated for long conversations. It can be straining on the neck to look up at someone for long periods.

So much boils down to basic empathy and the Golden Rule. If you were using a wheelchair, what would feel rude or disrespectful or annoying? How would you want people to talk to or interact with you? The truth is any one of us may find ourselves with a disability that necessitates a mobility or medical device at some point in our lives, so the more we normalize accommodations and, you know, basic courtesy and compassion, the better off we'll all be.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


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As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

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Pop Culture

'90s kids share movies that will 'take you back to a better time'

It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.

YouTube/Upworthy photo illustration

Honey, I shrunk the kid named Matilda while jamming in space!

Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.

Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.

Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.

These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.

Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:

1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

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A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.

2. "The Sandlot"

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It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.

3. "Drop Dead Fred"

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Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!

4. "The Goonies"

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Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.

5. Tim Burton's "Batman"

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Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.

6. "Hook"

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Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.

7. "Space Jam"

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It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.

8. "Matilda"

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I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.

9. "The Parent Trap"

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Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.

10. "The Land Before Time"

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No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.

11. "Richie Rich"

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The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.

12. "Dunston Checks In"

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Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.

13. "George of the Jungle"
george of the jungle, brendan faser

Watch out for the tree!!!

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Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.

14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
mary kate and ashley

Yes, they were professional detectives.

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Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.