FYI, Sign, JP ( Joe Plummer) joeplummer@xxxxxxx > This came from the Seeingeye-l list; we have been discussing interference > with our dogs by the general public, especially people claiming to be > "animal rights activists." > Subject: article,people with disabilities say equipment is part of their > space > > >>A friend sent this, and I thought some of you might find it interesting. >> Rebecca and Eagle >> People with disabilities say equipment is part of their space >> Monday, November 15, 2010 02:52 AM >> By >> Deborah Kendrick >> To touch or not to touch is the question that was raised again recently >> by a brochure >> I received from a nonprofit organization representing people with >> disabilities. "Avoid >> .?.?. touching their wheelchair, scooter or cane," the document stated. >> "People with >> disabilities consider their equipment part of their personal space." >> The truth is that like everything else, there are degrees of >> appropriateness within >> the touching range - "good touch" and "bad touch" - and it's an issue >> that warrants >> exploration. >> On one hand, there's a certain negative assumption at times that says the >> usual rules >> don't apply when the person to be touched had a disability. People in >> wheelchairs >> often find themselves being patted on the head. Blind people suffer being >> grabbed >> by complete strangers who want to "help" them across the street. >> Most people with manners can figure that out - if you wouldn't pat or >> grab a nondisabled >> person in a given situation, chances are that in the same situation it's >> also inappropriate >> to put your hands on a person with a disability. What's a little trickier >> is the >> issue of mobility equipment. >> Maybe this can be made clearer by trying to see equipment from the >> perspective of >> the person who uses it. If you haven't had any personal experience with >> external >> mobility devices - a wheelchair, scooter, guide dog, crutches - these >> things can >> look like awkward encumbrances. To the person with the disability, >> however, they >> are symbols of real liberation. >> If you can't walk unaided, a wheelchair, rather than being a point of >> confinement, >> is a tool of liberation. If you can't stand for long periods, a scooter >> or crutches >> can bridge the gap between missing out and fitting in. >> If you can't see obstacles of stairs in your line of travel, a guide dog >> or lessons >> with a white cane are often perceived as a new set of wings. >> Many people with disabilities say that a piece of equipment is an >> extension of themselves. >> A wheelchair is not just a chair, it is that part of "the person" that >> facilitates >> movement. A crutch is not a bit of metal or wood, it is the part of "the >> person" >> that makes standing or walking possible. A guide dog is not just a pet, >> but that >> part of "the person" that makes independent travel a reality. >> When you put a mobility device in the context of "extension of the >> person," knowing >> when to touch and when not to becomes easier. Would you straighten a >> stranger's collar? >> No? Then hands off the wheelchair. Would you fondle an acquaintance's >> jacket? No? >> Then hands off the dog. >> Mind you, I'm talking about strangers or mere acquaintances here. As an >> extension >> of personal space, "good touch" of a person's mobility equipment is fine >> whenever >> it would also be appropriate to touch the person. >> I often put my hand on a friend's wheelchair while chatting - in the same >> way that >> I might put my hand on another's arm. I do not, however, lean on their >> chairs for >> support, hang my coat off the back, or set my drink on their lap trays - >> any more >> than I would lean on or throw my junk on the lap of a nondisabled friend. >> When friends greet my dog, it is another way of greeting me. When people >> I barely >> know or don't know at all stroke his head or make kissing noises at him, >> it is a >> violation of my personal space. >> One more word on touching: Please don't let any of this discussion of >> equipment and >> personal space inhibit you from showing real physical warmth toward >> people you care >> about. A friend who uses a wheelchair once told me that he thought people >> were more >> reluctant to take his hand in friendship or hug him because of "all that >> metal" surrounding >> his body. >> I remember a time when I met a woman who had been a longtime "friend" on >> the phone. >> When she realized, upon meeting me, that I couldn't make eye contact, she >> was stunned >> for a moment. Then, on impulse, she replaced the eye contact with a huge >> hug. >> It was a good decision. >> Deborah Kendrick is a Cincinnati writer and advocate for people with >> disabilities. >> dkkendrick@xxxxxxxxxxxxx > > Check out the TABI resource web page at http://acorange.home.comcast.net/TABI and please make suggestions for new material. if you'd like to unsubscribe you can do so through the freelists.org web interface, or by sending an email to the address tabi-request@xxxxxxxxxxxxx with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject.