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.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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Matthew McConaughey in 2019.

Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey made a heartfelt plea for Americans to “do better” on Tuesday after a gunman murdered 19 children and 2 adults at Robb Elementary School in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas.

Uvalde is a small town of about 16,000 residents approximately 85 miles west of San Antonio. The actor grew up in Uvalde until he was 11 years old when his family moved to Longview, 430 miles away.

The suspected murderer, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, was killed by law enforcement at the scene of the crime. Before the rampage, Ramos allegedly shot his grandmother after a disagreement.

“As you all are aware there was another mass shooting today, this time in my home town of Uvalde, Texas,” McConaughey wrote in a statement shared on Twitter. “Once again, we have tragically proven that we are failing to be responsible for the rights our freedoms grant us.”

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Joy

50-years ago they trade a grilled cheese for a painting. Now it's worth a small fortune.

Irene and Tony Demas regularly traded food at their restaurant in exchange for crafts. It paid off big time.

Photo by Gio Bartlett on Unsplash

Painting traded for grilled cheese worth thousands.

The grilled cheese at Irene and Tony Demas’ restaurant was truly something special. The combination of freshly baked artisan bread and 5-year-old cheddar was enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but no one was nearly as devoted to the item as the restaurant’s regular, John Kinnear.

Kinnear loved the London, Ontario restaurant's grilled cheese so much that he ordered it every single day, though he wouldn’t always pay for it in cash. The Demases were well known for bartering their food in exchange for odds and ends from local craftspeople and merchants.

“Everyone supported everyone back then,” Irene told the Guardian, saying that the couple would often trade free soup and a sandwich for fresh flowers. Two different kinds of nourishment, you might say.

And so, in the 1970s the Demases made a deal with Kinnear that he could pay them for his grilled cheese sandwiches with artwork. Being a painter himself and part of an art community, Kinnear would never run out of that currency.

Little did Kinnear—or anyone—know, eventually he would give the Demases a painting worth an entire lifetime's supply of grilled cheeses. And then some.

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