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The importance of keeping your cool when educating

BrookeUBrookeU Moderator Posts: 176 Moderator
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This is all coming from someone who feels her blood boil when injustices happen to people in the paralysis community. The first thing I want to do when something happens is scream at everyone, BUT that is not the right way to do it! Now, there are some times when people do things out of total malice or are not ignorant to a matter but simply choose to ignore it. But for the times when someone truly doesn't know they're doing something wrong, it's important to stay cool. Nothing really ever gets solved by attacking people. A little story:

I recently drove past a spa that had a stand-up chalkboard with specials on it...plopped in the middle of the unloading zone of an accessible spot. I was MAD. But I went inside, politely talked to the woman at the front desk and explained why that sign shouldn't be there (people can't get out of their cars if they need that space = unfair AND you could lose potential customers). I had seen this at the spa before but didn't say anything the first time since I thought it might be a one-time thing. Her face told me that she genuinely had no clue what putting the sign there was doing. She apologized, THANKED me for educating her, moved the sign to another spot out front, and said it wouldn't happen again and she would tell other employees.

That's the best response I could've gotten, and I wouldn't have gotten it if I had been unkind.

Does anyone else have similar stories or thoughts on this?


  • SterlionSterlion Moderator Posts: 99 Moderator
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    @BrookeU Props to you. Sometimes it’s hard for me to want to speak up and say something but once I do I’m glad I did. People need to be aware and educated and that won’t get done if we’re silent. 
  • WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Moderator Posts: 384 Moderator
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    What a great topic! I too have had many experiences like this and Ive learned over the years that people just do not know - or understand - unless they have a personal experience with paralysis or have someone in their life that is disabled. That is the cold hard truth. That stops me from getting mad or angry (even though I am inside LOL) and helps me to better approach the subject of accessibility or lack there of when it comes to my C4 Quad husband. 

    A recent story: 

    My husband and I were walking down one of the shopping streets close to our home. We saw a sign for a sale, but there were 5 steps to get up to the store. There was a "wheelchair accessible around back" sign by the door, so we followed the signs to the back entrance where there was an elevator to get up to the store. We knocked on the door. Nothing. Knocked again. Still nothing. I went back around front and told the sales staff we were waiting at the back entrance. They seemed annoyed as they were quite busy. The sales associate led me downstairs, through the back storage area, around the staff area and private washrooms for the staff, and opened the door so my husband could use the elevator. My husband wasn't impressed, but got into the little elevator they had. When he was up enough to get out, the sales associate had to move boxes, hangers, chairs and tables out of the way to get him through the pathway just to get into the store to shop. It was really embarrassing and frustrating for both of us. - and he was mortified. I looked at her with sadness in my eyes when we had finally arrived in the store - and she told me she had never let anyone in that way before and was so sorry that the entrance was such a mess. She said she never had had ANYONE in a wheelchair in the store before since she started, and thanked me for bringing it to her attention as to how hard it was to get into the store. She told me she would immediately clear the pathway and add more signage to the front to make sure staff knew how to direct people to the accessible entrance. I was grateful. 

    Although our experiences are never great when it comes to places like this, just knowing that your visiting that store, at that time and moment, will help a lot of other people in the future who want to visit the store. It may also help her to notice more accessible issues in her every day life.

    That is how I view situations like this - education is SO important. It changes people one person at a time. it DOES make a difference. All you can do is show up, and try and live your life as normally as you can. Not everyone will understand, but if enough of us as couples and individuals get "out there' and do normal activities as we want to, the ones that need accessibility help will notice and there will be change. 

    Thanks for this thread! 

    Brooke (WAGS of SCI) 
    Your WAGS of SCI
    (Elena and Brooke)
  • BrookeUBrookeU Moderator Posts: 176 Moderator
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    @WAGSofSCI Even though it was frustrating for you two to experience that, it’s such a great thing that you decided to go in instead of just giving up on it. Because like you said, it can help someone in the future so they don’t have to deal with it too

    And yup, @Sterlion, I never regret speaking up even when it takes getting over some nerves to do so. Staying silent won’t do anything!
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