There are many types and degrees of physical disabilities, and not all require a wheelchair. It may be difficult to identify a person with a physical disability.
Types of assistance used: elevator, mobility device (e.g., wheelchair, scooter, walker, cane, crutches), and support person.
- Speak naturally and directly to the person, not to his or her companion or support person.
- If you need to have a lengthy conversation with someone in a wheelchair or scooter, consider sitting so that you can make eye contact.
- Ask before you help. People with physical disabilities often have their own ways of doing things.
- Respect the person’s personal space.
- Don’t move items or equipment, such as canes and walkers, out of the person’s reach.
- Don't touch assistive devices without permission. If you have permission to move a person in a wheelchair, remember to: wait for and follow the person’s instructions, confirm that the person is ready to move, describe what you’re going to do before you do it, avoid uneven ground and objects, and not to leave the person in an awkward, dangerous or undignified position such as facing a wall or in the path of opening doors.
- Let the person know about accessible features in the immediate area (e.g. automatic doors, accessible washrooms, elevators, ramps).