Thursday, September 13, 2007

30 Days in a Wheelchair....

I found this video on YouTube , apparently Part I of a documentary prepared at a Michigan college by students who tried an experiment - two students were to use a wheelchair for 30 days, with some exceptions. (The rules are contained within the video.)

Their portrayal of the experience of using a wheelchair is almost completely negative. (Part 2, in my opinion, was even more negative and it's over there but I'm not going to post it.) Whether they realize it or not, they forgot to take into account numerous factors here. I'll explain below how that affects things. I also want to point out that projects where people are "disabled for a day" or even "30 days" aren't the same as being disabled, a point that's been made by others on the web.

I do think this video can work toward helping folks understand that adapting to a disability takes time. (Showing the first 30 days of anything is going to be a skewed view).

When you first use a wheelchair, you're not used to it. Naturally if you're pushing one, your muscles take time to develop. Also your environment needs to be adapted. So when they show a shot of a woman in a wheelchair who has a microwave oven over her head and is trying to find "something to eat and cook" from kitchen cabinets above her and she decides she can't do anything herself, that's a result of the environment, not being in a wheelchair.

However, some of their observations are interesting (and amusing) and, of course, I'm interested in readers' comments as usual, so thought I'd put this video up. Please note- violence alert- that the video opens with a re-enactment of a motor vehicle accident, showing the impact, glass flying and an air bag deploying.


hotwheelz said...

Where do you find this stuff? LOL This made me laugh in a few spots but it draws attention to many issues facing wheelchair users which is good. It sort of reminded me of one of those 1950's safe driving movies with that music playing and the dramatic opening start of 30 days Disabled.

PS My cast is off. Thanks again for your help.

electroDude said...

I think they were both really scared about doing 30 days in a wheelchair. On Day 1 they looked scared. It's a lot different than just trying a wheelchair out at a disability fair and it was kind of interesting to watch. I wish some of the kids I go to school with would try a wheelchair out for 30 days.

Elizabeth McClung said...

I think for a ADA "documentary" they should probably stop using the word "handicapped" quite so much - personally - It was interesting that the male got more attention/acceptance than the female - which is what the guys in the film Murderball say as well. I honestly couldn't believe it when she said; "I can't imagine doing this for the rest of my life." - hello? This is the kinda of comments people make all the time like "I don't know how you do it." or "Wow, If I was in your shoes, I'll kill myself" - I fail to see how this is helping understanding of people with disability?

goldchair said...

I watched Part 2 and agree it's more negative. I think this video opens a good dialogue and starting point up about disability. Maybe that awareness is at least deeper in a 30 day experience than the usual hit and run I'll spend an hour or so in a wheelchair kind of thing.

Nora Wiles said...

HAHAHA! This is hilarious. I mean, first, the rules: "No asking for help"...????!?!?

So much of having a disability has to do with having the courage, grace, and frankly charm to ask for help. It was also interesting that they could only get out of the chair to shower, get dressed, and get in bed. If I could shower, dress, and get in and out of bed myself, I wouldn't give a second thought to my disability!

Finally, I think the whole "acceptance," "social stigma" aspect is overblown. In my experience, 90 percent of people literally forget that I use a wheelchair after knowing me for a week. Confidence, personality, and taking a serious interest in one's hygiene and appearance can overcome almost any social awkwardness.

And to be honest, I like it when people stare at me because I know I'm good looking:)