Navigating a wheelchair in the snow can be a challenge. Below are four ways able-bodied people can be good neighbors during the winter months.
- If there’s a van-accessible handicapped-parking spot, leave it for a van that is equipped with a wheelchair lift. Be sure not to crowd the van on the passenger side, which is where most lifts are installed.
- Watch for wheelchair users in parking lots. Because they are lower to the ground, people in wheelchairs aren’t as easy to spot when you’re backing out of a parking space.
- Don’t be too helpful. Always ask a wheelchair user if he or she needs help and then wait for a response. “If someone came along and pushed me and I wasn’t ready for it, that person could push me right out of my chair,” says Kelly Merz, who uses a manual wheelchair.
- Keep your sidewalks clear of snow and ice in the winter! “For people in a chair, the choice is the sidewalk or the road. If you don’t clear your sidewalks, you don’t leave them much choice,” says Betsy Nolan, whose son uses a pediatric power wheelchair.