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Freeing or stigmatizing?

September 6, 2012

I would like to share a beautiful photograph that I came across this morning.

This is a photo of Sue.  A woman who wanted to share that she finds her wheelchair freeing – not confining. 

As an occupational therapist, I am often cautioned to minimize how much assistive technology I encourage people to use.  Many users of technology or equipment such as wheelchairs are very aware of how these potentially freeing tools are viewed by non-users as badges of disability.  Disabled people are very aware of their impairments and the way our society disables them.  However, having people pity them (or make assumptions about them like they are lazy or not worth talking to) because they use equipment like wheelchairs can minimize their use of – as I said above – potentially freeing tools.

We can’t help but see the ‘tool’ but let’s then look past it to the person.

What are your thoughts about therapists like me encouraging people with impairments to try using assistive technology or equipment?


For more information about Sue Austin, go to the Friday, August 31st post at

  1. Thanks for reading and commenting. Feel free to challenge me as well. I have a ways to go before I’m confident in my “getting it” and I’m no spring chicken 🙂


  2. Good for you, Shelia! I’m so encouraged to know there are therapists like you out there who ‘get it.’

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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