A friend of mine was in the post office in her wheelchair when she overheard a man with a leg cast on telling another friend how he was so glad he was no longer "wheelchair bound". In front of her, as she sat in her wheelchair, he told his friend how he couldn't go out in a wheelchair or do anything. His friend commiserated with him.
Then this morning I see this article by a teacher who was temporarily using a wheelchair. She writes how it kept her "homebound and schoolbound".
Neither person who had the experience of being in a wheelchair got the point: it's the fact that there isn't adequate transportation that's more of an issue than "being in a wheelchair" or, as people keep insisting on saying "wheelchair bound". The latter, considered archaic language by some of us using wheelchairs (who are perfectly aware that we are not 'bound' to our chairs), undermines the perception of a wheelchair as a viable form of mobility, even a preferable one to some who would do better with one but fight it because of such perceptions.
If you ask me, it all comes back to writing off the potential of people with disabilities -not wanting to put resources into affordable transportation and durable medical equipment. Keeping these perceptions alive is part of that equation. It's so ingrained into some folks that they enter into the experience of using a wheelchair and leave it, even for months, without ever questioning those perceptions, without ever asking the why's. Why isn't there available and affordable transportation for a power chair user to go to the movies, out to dinner in many places? Why do they still sell and rent such heavy manual wheelchairs that they can't be pushed and navigated around in the community?
And it's so sad. Because these folks could be allies. Instead- and in many cases unwittingly- they further the misperception that using a wheelchair means being bound.
UPDATE: Here's another one: Disability Changes the view