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Interacting with People who have Mobility Disorder

1.6 million people in the U.S. today utilize a wheelchair, and millions of others use walkers, scooters, canes, braces or other devices as aids to movement -- making this the most visible of all disabilities. Mobility disabilities can stem from a wide range of causes and be permanent, intermittent or temporary. Assistance may vary depending on the severity of the disability. Using a wheelchair doesn’t always mean that people cannot walk short distances. Positive etiquette with people who have a mobility disability include the following:

  • Sit, when possible, in order to be make eye contact with the person
  • Speak directly to the person and do not shout or speak in condescending or patronizing tones
  • Ask before assisting
    • Listen to instructions first before assisting a person with a mobility disability. Make sure the person is ready before you assist. Walk at a normal pace
    • Do not move the wheelchair, crutches, walker or cane out of reach from the person who is utilizing them (if they are seated in a pew).
Accessibility Changes
  • Designate 12’6” wide disabled parking spaces
  • Build a ramp (if necessary) to church entrance with curbcuts to door thresholds
  • Install firm carpeting and reduce floor slickness
  • Adapt a bathroom (raised toilet seats, grab bars, lower sink - faucet and towel dispenser, and mirror)
  • Provide an accessible drinking fountainShorten several pews throughout the congregation (scattered) so a person who utilizes a wheelchair can fit into the “row” (not the aisle) and sit with his/her family/friends.

Wheelchair Access
Wheelchair Access



Joni and Friends
Joni and Friends is about advancing disability ministry and changing the church and communities around the world

Wheelchair Foundation
The Wheelchair Foundation is a nonprofit organization leading an international effort to create awareness of the needs and abilities of people with physical disabilities, to promote the joy of giving, create global friendship, and to deliver a wheelchair to every child, teen and adult in the world who needs one, but cannot afford one.