Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ways stores, family and friends can help make shopping for those in wheelchairs more enjoyable.

In my last blog entry I shared my challenging shopping experience I had last weekend while in a wheelchair.  Today, I would like to share some ways you or stores can do to help make shopping more enjoyable for people in wheelchairs. 

I realize that those of us with disabilities could always shop online.  I have shopped online for years; but sometimes I just want to get out of the house and browse the stores just like everyone else.  

Here are some ways that stores, family and friends can do to help make our shopping experience more enjoyable:

If you know the stores you would like to shop, call ahead of time to find out if they are truly handicap accessible.  Ask specific questions i.e.:
Is there a ramp; are there any steps into or in the store; are the doors wide enough for a wheelchair to get through; can a wheelchair get around the racks or displays; could a sales clerk be available to assist - especially to get items in areas the wheelchair is unable to access; are the dressing rooms wheelchair accessible;

If you know someone who uses a wheelchair to get around, don’t be afraid to offer to take them shopping; but be prepared beforehand.  Wheelchairs weigh anywhere from 30 to 100 lbs depending on the size of chair.  Are you able to lift the chair into your trunk?  If not, ask a friend to come along to assist you.  Make sure your vehicle has room for the chair. 

If your friend’s chair is not motorized, make sure you are able to push their wheelchair. As much as little children wish to be big helpers, please do not let them push the chair.  We really do not wish to be pushed into things or fall out of our chairs. 

Some of us with certain disabilities do not get out very often; so when you take your friend out for a few hours make it as enjoyable as possible.  Don’t be afraid to be goofy – try on hats, go to the makeup counter of the department store and get mini make over.  If possible, take them out for lunch too – but again make sure the restaurant is wheelchair accessible.   

On a side note here; the holidays are usually busy with parities, concerts, programs etc.  People with disabilities love to attend as well.  When you invite a disabled friend or family member to one of these events please be considerate of their disability.  There have been times I went to someone’s home for dinner and was unable to enter their home because I could not go up their steps.  It was very embarrassing for me as well as the hostess.

I know that some of these suggestions may call for careful planning or even a little inconvenient for you, but it is worth it when you see the happiness on someone’s face that you cared enough to share your time with them.  

I know for me, I am truly thankful for my daughter, husband and grandson who take the extra time to take me shopping.  It like a giant pick me up to get out of the house.  I am truly grateful. 


Anonymous said...

Hi Michele,

Very good suggestions. A former pastor's wife was wheelchair bound and my husband constructed a portable plywood ramp to allow access to our home. We only had one step, but it was still too hard to get in without the ramp. He also built a special 'tv' tray for food and drinks for her to use when they visited us.

My mother has to use a wheelchair for shopping now, also. And it is a blessing to have family members and friends with strong backs to take her shopping.

I'm happy to see that you have loved ones to help you!

Blessings to you,

genny said...

nice post and inspirational blog. thanks for dropping by at my blog. cheers!