There are three big NOs to be aware of when interacting with a senior — or anyone else — in wheelchair.
- Do not “talk down” to them. In other words, do not stoop over or lean down, talking to them as you would with a small child. Stand facing them and conversing as you would with any other person.
- Address the person directly. Do not ignore them and direct your conversation to the caregiver or a person accompanying them. The person may have a mobility limitation, but that doesn’t mean that they have anything wrong with their brain.
- Do not unnecessarily raise your voice or assume that the person is hard of hearing. Just because they can’t walk, it doesn’t mean that they are deaf.
Interacting with someone in wheelchair involves the same respect and consideration as you would give to anyone else. This includes greeting them politely as you would anyone else, refraining from violating their personal space and asking their permission before touching or moving their chair. If a person in a wheelchair is unaccompanied, you should assume that they are in complete control of the chair. They will ask for your assistance if they need it.