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What’s It Like Being in a Wheelchair?

A very frankly open and honest narrative about life in a wheelchair.

I’ve been asked this question 10,000 times.  I usually answer by saying, “What’s it like wearing 

your shoes?”  My wheelchair is as much a part of me as your shoes are of you.  Don’t get me 

wrong.  I hate being in a wheelchair.  I hate it more being without it.

There is a good side and a bad side to being in a wheelchair. I can do for myself.  I can take 

myself places. I can go shopping by myself, and even take myself to a movie. Sometimes I take 

myself out for lunch. I’m not dependent on people. I’m fully capable of taking care of myself.

With the passing of ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) is much improved accessability  for people in wheelchairs.  All buses are now accessible.  In most public places there are lower counters.  In the supermarkets, you can ask for and receive assistance in the form of someone walking around with you pushing your cart and helping you find and reach your merchandise.  This person will make  viable suggestions (but only if you ask) and put everything at the register for you.

Amusement parks have made great strides in accessibility.  Most all their new rides are  

accessible and the ride operators are very willing to help.  They’ve also altered some of the older 

rides to make them accessible.

I remember trying to board the King Arthur’s carousel at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.  I 

went to the top of the ramp and waited for the ride operator.  I believe they’re called ‘cast 

members’ in that park.  He came to me and said I could not board the ride, because my chair had a motor.  I looked at his brown shoes, and then I looked at him. 

Our conversation went like this: With as serious a face as I could muster.  I said to him; “ I’m 

sorry, but you cannot ride this ride today.  You are wearing brown shoes.”


“Only people in black shoes get to ride this ride today.”

He looked at his shoes, looked at me quizzically, and suddenly broke into a smile. “Let me call 

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User Comments
  1. Julie Sloan

    On March 27, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Nice article! I have a walker now, but I will likely need a wheelchair in the future. “We are only as disabled as we let you make us!”- How true!

  2. Judy T Lloyd

    On April 23, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I can really appreciate this, because my husband has a Quantam electronic chair. We bought a PT Cruiser because it will carry his chair. I will read more of your articles from now on.

  3. Wanda

    On April 26, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    I am having to write a paper and it is on disadvantage of being wheelchair bound and about going to a mall and shopping and trying on clothes and visiting a restroom there and eatting at the food court there any inside to doing this would be very much appreciate ,I know it has to be differcult and what change to the mall ,the wheelchair or the parking lot would you recommend.I would appreciate any information from anyone.

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