News and Opinions about MS, Health & Disability

Wheelchairs enable users and restore independence

on June 6, 2016

Out and about independently in his wheechair

Out and about independently in his wheelchair.

Surfing the internet, for want of something better to do, I came across the old but now outdated expression ‘wheelchair bound’.

It was in an article about MS published by Medical News Today in which Honor Whiteman wrote: “According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, around two thirds of people with MS retain their ability to walk, though many individuals may require the assistance of a cane or crutches to get around. In severe cases, some patients may become wheelchair bound.”

And it cannot be classified as an ‘old’ story, having only been published on January 27 this year.

For everyone who uses a wheelchair, whether always or only part of the time, I feel compelled to speak out. We are not ‘wheelchair bound’ nor are we ‘confined to’ them. Wheelchairs actually increase our ability to get around. They enable us, even empower us, to go to a variety of places and do different things. What’s more, self-propedd manual wheelchairs or electric powered ones that we can control ourselves give us both independence and freedom that would otherwise be denied to us.

So, please, don’t describe us as ‘wheelchair bound’, instead consider us as ‘wheelchair users’; maybe even ‘wheelchair enabled’, or is that a step too far?

Speaking about what to say when talking or writing about people with disabilities, let’s start right there. You need to know that, most of us don’t want to be termed as disabled people. We are people first; our disabilities are secondary.

Similarly, I have MS but I don’t suffer from it, nor a victim of it. Instead, I live with it. Whatever disability anyone may have, they are not sufferers or victims.

Some may regard this as political correctness but, really, it isn’t. It is just good manners to recognise that we are more important than our disabilities.

Everyone has different likes and dislike; as well as differing opinions. And, strange as it may seem, in this respect, people both with and without disabilities are the same.

For example, the UK has long ado dispensed with the word ‘handicapped’ and now uses ‘disabled’. In USA and Canada, the term ‘handicapped’ is accepted and widely used although in the States the law relating to rights etc is called the Americans with Disabilities Act. Hotels tend to describe their accessible rooms as ADA rooms.

Purely, personally, while preferring the use of ‘disability’, I think ‘handicap’ should be equally acceptable. I doubt that the time will ever arrive when the use of ‘differently-abled’ will ever come easily to me. It smacks so much of the political correctness that is so detestable to me.



MSNT strapline copy


One Response to “Wheelchairs enable users and restore independence”

  1. kevin says:

    I suffer MS and I am a victim that at times I am wheelchair bound. Just because I may be bound to the chair does not deny the freedom it gives me.

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