Anticipating Accessibility Needs During the Holiday Season
Shepherd Center's Peer Support Manager gives tips for planning ahead and wheelchair etiquette
As the holiday season approaches, Shepherd Center asks everyone to consider accessibility needs and wheelchair etiquette in their holiday plans. Pete Anziano, Peer Support Manager at Shepherd Center, gave Shepherd Center Radio a few tips.
To listen to the entire Shepherd Center Radio Podcast with Pete Anziano, download the podcast as an audio file above, or access it at shepherd.org/radio.
Q: What can family members do to make sure a place they are traveling to is accessible?
I think that if it’s a restaurant or a cruise line or a cabin, at the beach, or in the mountains or something like that, a phone call is something that’s easy to make to ask if the environment is accessible. The person you get on the phone may feel like it is because they have an ADA grab rail in the bathroom, but they might also not think that it’s a problem that there’s two steps up into the bathroom. So the person you speak to on the phone may not know exactly what you need and what you’re asking for or what you require. At the same time, they might feel like it’s an accessible home or an accessible environment for one reason or another.
Keep an open mind, to be ready to problem solve, be ready to enjoy yourself even if you have to problem solve a little bit. Because after all, if we are all going together somewhere as a family, the goal is to come together, to commune, to share and to love one another.
Q: We all want to help someone when we see someone with a disability. Should we be offering? Should we ask before we offer help or wait to be asked?
I think that the best policy is to just to ask. Some people have a big, kind spot in their heart, and they are looking to do something kind and generous to fulfill that spot in their heart really and to feel like they are contributing to society. But if you don’t know how to ask somebody or if you don’t know how to help somebody, you really should just ask.And they might say, no thank you. And then you just smile and be on your way. People are looking for a sense of confidence, looking for a sense of accomplishment often, and I don’t want to accidentally step on their toes with that. But at the same time, some people might need a hand. So, it would be nice if they were asked if they needed a hand.
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 740 inpatients, nearly 280 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.