I’m a part time
wheelchair user and travel on trains a fair bit. Train staff push my wheelchair
without my consent every damn time I need a ramp. Most recently (this summer) I
asked the staff member to carry my bags so that I could wheel myself but they
still insisted on pushing me declaring they could do both. I had to say no at
least twice more before they relented and let me wheel myself down the
On the tube, also this summer, I had parked my electric wheelchair in the wheelchair spot, the train was busy but not packed. An older guy stood very close behind me and decided that the handle of my chair would be a perfect leaning rest for him. I knew he was there and pressing on my chair but didn’t want to make a fuss in public (although I should have) so just sat there with a random guy leaning on what is basically my arm/leg.
I strongly feel that my wheelchair is an extension of me. I wouldn’t touch, pull or lean on a stranger and I certainly wouldn’t drag them where I thought they needed to be. Wheeling myself is part of my independence and every time someone pushes me without my consent they take that away from me. I know that to other people the touching is innocent and they’re trying to be helpful but they’re needs to be greater awareness of how disabled people see their mobility aids and why pushing people without consent is wrong.
Criminologist and Co-Director of Centre for Gender Studies at University of Sussex