5 assumptions you should not make if you are disabled


I find myself making assumptions all the time as a result of my disability. Sometimes it’s because I think I know the answer and don’t want to ask. Other times I just don’t want to go through the effort of researching an answer. There are also times when fear or a negative attitude can take over. Here are 5 assumptions you should not make if you are mobility impaired:

1. Assuming something is not accessible

It’s easy to assume from a picture or a Google map or a description that a place may not be accessible to you. For example, you might see a flight of stairs wrapping around the outside of a building and think “Oh that must be the only entrance. I’m not going!” However, you have no idea that an elevator might be just around the corner. If you have a question, call in advance. If you’re feeling adventurous, just go. Don’t miss out on doing something just because you assume the location might not be accessible.

2. Assuming something can’t be made accessible

There was an Italian restaurant around the corner from an apartment I was renting in Hawaii last year. It always smelled great when I would roll by. Unfortunately there was a large step at the front entrance. I made the casual assumption that I would not be able to go inside. Well, finally I decided I wanted to eat there and I discovered that the owner had a ramp made especially for wheelchairs and all I had to do was peek in and ask. The ramp couldn’t be placed outside all the time because it would have blocked the sidewalk. Of course it would have been nice if they built a ramp into the floor inside the restaurant, but the lesson here is that most times, adjustments can be made to make a place accessible to you. Just ask. If the answer is negative, then you don’t need to spend your money there anyway.

3. Assuming something is too difficult

This one still drives me crazy all the time. I often make an assumption about a work task that it will take much longer than it actually does. It’s the same with physical activity as well. Assuming something is too difficult is especially unfortunate because it’s a deterrent from even trying. I usually remind myself that unless I have physically tried it, I cannot judge that it’s too difficult. The other thing is that something might be difficult at first but it could get easier over time. For example, I usually find that it takes me a few weeks to get used to transferring into a new shower setup. After that, I figure out where all my hands and feet should go to make it as easy as possible.

4. Assuming there won’t be anyone to help you

How often do you go somewhere and you’re the only person there? I mean ONLY person. RARELY! Unless you’re creeping around dark alleys at 3 in the morning, it’s likely that there will be at least one, if not many more people wherever you are about to go. Many times when I was still walking, I needed help lifting something or picking something up off the ground. I also needed help on occasion to get picked up off the ground myself. If there is a slight chance that you could fall or need assistance, don’t let that prevent you from going out and doing things. Don’t assume you’ll be left on the ground rolling around without anyone there to help you. Help can swoop in from weird places when necessary. Do your best to be safe and go for it.

5. Assuming the worst case scenario

This is a trait that bugs me about many people I know. They assume the worst will happen. It’s not wise to assume the worst, nor is it wise to assume the best. But If you’re going to be un-wise, at least be positive. I like to set my sights somewhere to the positive side of the middle when planning for something whether it’s a meeting, an event, or even just a trip to the store. I hope and expect everything to go okay, but I am prepared to accept an unexpected challenge. No sense worrying about something that has not even happened to you yet. Getting this worst-case problem under control can be a huge benefit to your life and your outlook.

Do you find yourself making any negative assumptions? How does it impact you? Feel free to answer in the comments section.

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3 Responses to 5 assumptions you should not make if you are disabled

  1. Melissa Barrow says:

    I am my own worst enemy most of the time because I think you hit the nail on the head with this post… concerning me!

  2. Dan says:

    Same here — I still find myself having a mental battle on occasion.

    That law sounds ridiculous!!! I understand the principle behind it but really? 95% of the time I just want to go somewhere to eat, not use the bathroom!

  3. Gord Wallen says:

    I really like this post. I have been guilty of all 5 assumptions.
    1. I have made this assumption on more than one occasion. Mostly due to experience. I really have a problem when having to use an alternate “segregated” entrance, especially in new buildings.
    2. We have an old downtown with shops and restaurants, most of which are not accessible. At one coffee shop there is only a single step. Under the local municipal bylaw businesses cannot have a ramp without having an accessible washroom. Most small businesses do not have the funds to do this so they don’t provide access to those with disabilities.

    3. Guilty!
    4. I should not assume this because everytime I’ve needed help someone has arrived!
    5. Guilty again!

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