Wheelchair Users hate to be pushed around

NOBODY likes to be pushed around.


Not figuratively and not literally.

Not as a non-disabled and not as a disabled one.


Yet so many times I have had strangers LITERALLY push my wheelchair around, often without even asking me first!

Some have even done it after I said “NO Thank you” with a smile.

Here are three reasons why you should always ask before pushing someone in a wheelchair!


1- Is pushing Being helpful or hurtful?

On my way to a television shoot, someone, without even making eye contact with me or introducing himself, came out of nowhere from being me, and pushed my wheelchair up the ramp. It wasn’t even clear if he had done this out of kindness or to push me out of his way.

In airports, shortly after my accident, I have had agents just taking over the control of my wheels. Again without asking. By assuming that if I needed help to get me ON the plane, I surely needed help for everything else as well. To be truthful, the only times I needed someone to push my wheelchair in airports, is when they forced me to use one of theirs. My own wheelchair is a part of me. Other wheels… feel very uncomfortable – like wearing your mom’s shoes when you were little.

Thomas, my 13 years old son, knows that when we go out, even where there is a hill, he is to encourage me but he is NOT allowed to push me – unless I ask.

Being pushed around by strangers also can make situation worse. We don’t know you. You don’t know us or what we need. In my wheelchair, I am constantly readjusting my balance. You don’t know this. When you push me around without my consent, you destabilise me.

You also probably do not know that wheelchairs have some wheels that can get caught in cracks, over pebblesk or other piece of garbagge. If you try to push us over those… we may actually fall forward.

Pushing someone who is a wheelchair MUST be teamwork.

You need to know HOW-TO carry, transfer or push before you do and I need to be prepared.

When you are not trained and we don’t work as a team, accidents happen, like it almost did during air travel https://rollfwd.com/scary-air-travel-3-mistakes-leading-to-safety-concerns/


2 – Wheelchair users are people first

➡️ A person in a wheelchair is not useless nor are they helpless.

😃 We usually know where we are going and how we are getting there.

Some of us will have called before to make sure we have an accessible way to get there, or we know the place so much that we know where the obstacles are and where the most direct route is.


Facing barriers in our Societies make us  (sadly) REALLY aware of our environment. And it also makes us

💪 Great planners

💪 Resourceful and

💪 Creative when we need to.

For example, when I go out to a restaurant… I have scanned the sector ahead of time or at least asked for a recommendation.


3 – Wheelchair users do their homework

Unlike most non-disabled person, who calls restaurants to find out about their menu or to make a simple reservation, someone like me, a wheelchair user, will often have:

💪 spoken to staff member,

💪 then the manager

💪 asked if there are steps to get in (or a ramp),

💪 checked if the bathroom is on the main floor or if there is a lift that gets me to a toilet.

💪 verified if the door to the toilet is wide enough,

💪 queried if there are bars installed,

💪 questioned if there is an accessible sink.

I do expect the mirror to be higher than my eye level, but that, I can do without.

👍 Finally, I usually have also asked for accessible parking nearby. Indoor parking preferably especially in winter times as shoveling snow in a wheelchair is not that easily done!


So why do we always want to help disabled people?

For some people, wanting to push my wheelchair comes from Kindness. I can conceive that!

➡️ But Pushing my wheelchair is an Overuse of Kindness.


For other people, pushing my wheelchair comes from this Ableist and erroneous preconceived notion that people with disabilities need help, are invalid, useless, incapable, incompetent, … people to have pity for.

No THANK YOU. Is what I say. And maybe I’ll say more one day about that.

Don’t imagine my life to be sad or bad. I live a good life with my son, family and friends.

And my disability does NOT make me incapable of going around on my own.



👍 Let me have agency.

👍 Let me have dignity.

👍 Let me be my own person.


I promise I will ask for help if I need to.


To be an Ally – remember:

➡️ Don’t touch my wheelchair. Unless I ask you to.

➡️ You can brush off the accumulated snow on my windshield. That is helpful and something that is difficult to do!

➡️ And when you are not sure if or how you can help – always ask first!