Sit Down -- Now You're Invisible!
Use one of these or a wheelchair?
Just sit down and disappear!
My daughter frequently uses a scooter to get around. She doesn't look disabled -- in fact she's a beautiful and talented woman -- but a strange thing happens when she plops down on the scooter seat. She becomes invisible to adults. Someone will join us and automatically begin talking to me as if she isn't right there. Even if they have questions for or about her, they tend to look at me during the conversation.
Why? Kids have no problem with wheelchairs or scooters. In fact, they're likely to be fascinated and want a ride. But grownups look all around the vehicle and stare into space where my daughter's head would be if she were standing.
Are we secretly terrified that the disability might be contagious? Are we embarrassed to be standing when the person on the scooter can't? Are we so afraid of being offensive that we can't even look in the eye of someone with a disability?
If the answer to any of those questions is "yes," then we need to make some major changes. First and foremost, look at the person using the wheelchair or scooter, rather than focusing on their transportation or avoiding them. Treat that person exactly as you would anyone else. Talk to them, ask questions if you're curious, tease and joke with them. They're just somebody riding instead of walking.
Remember, you might be joining them one day in a wheelchair or scooter, and you won't want to disappear just to get around.