Bond, ropes, captivity, the impossibility of movement and similar association are exactly what most people think when they hear the words “confined to” and “bound”. It is not wrong. Does then it make any sense to say that someone is “confined to a wheelchair” or “wheelchair bound”? No,it is absolutely pointless! As it’s absurd to say that someone is bound/confined to shoes, clothes, house or any other thing that is used in daily life, it is equally absurd to say it for the thing that’s used for mobility. Maybe it’ll amaze you, but the wheelchairs are not designed to make someone captive, opposite, wheelchairs offers a possibility for people to (really) live a life.
Why do people so often use the terms “confined to a wheelchair” and “wheelchair bound”?
Milica wrote the following on her blog: For six years, since I have been a wheelchair user, almost every article that has been published about me, as any story published in other media contained that I’m “confined to a wheelchair” or “wheelchair bound”. Sometimes even for a bed. That is not even close to how I see a “relationship” between my wheelchair and me. Okay, it’s true, we are physically really close since the first day when I started to use it, but not even for a moment did a wheelchair confine me to anything. Opposite, that wheelchair allows me to be mobile, to perform daily activities and responsibilities, simply, wheelchair allow me to live life to the fullest. Yet, for most people I remain “confined to a wheelchair”. At first I thought the problem was in me, in something I do or don’t do, and then I realized it is a problem of all those who use wheelchairs.
The reasons why media very often use these terms are ignorance and sensationalism. They strive for sensationalism because they want to attract more viewers and readers, so even when you draw their attention on using the wrong terminology, they just continue on their own, mainly placing the person in wheelchair in a victim role. On the other hand, ignorance comes from the fact that people don’t care about what is proper to say, from the fact that wheelchair users are not seen so often due to the inaccessibility of the communities and the fact that these terms are deeply rooted as association for wheelchair users. This can be corrected by personal example, permanent education and correction whenever the chance arises.
What is much worse is that when those who have to use wheelchair for any reason, visualize wheelchair as an obstacle, and not as something that provides them the endless possibilities. Let’s be clear, I don’t adore my wheelchair and If I could choose, I certainly would not choose to use it, but the truth is that I need to use the wheelchair. Precisely, wheelchairs provide me freedom, independence and mobility. Thanks to them I can do whatever I want and I can live life to the fullest. So, if you think that I’m “wheelchair bound” or “confined to a wheelchair”, I have to tell you that you’re absolutely wrong.
That what, in fact, limits me and all the wheelchair users are discrimination and inaccessible environment. There’s a million physical and mental barriers that unnecessarily exist, but the barriers don’t stem from the wheelchair itself. Actually, people are those who make them.
Don’t believe me?! Just sit in a wheelchair and you’ll see that nothing will bind or confine you (or am I wrong?).
By: Milica Knežević
Visit Milica’s website, Izaberi da živiš | Choose to live for more about her life with spinal cord injury.