Ambulatory Wheelchair Users in Australia: Stories of Inclusivity

Ambulatory Wheelchair Users

When we see people in a wheelchair, we automatically assume they have lost all mobility and need a wheelchair to move around. This is a stigma and a misconception since an ambulatory wheelchair user is an individual who still retains the ability to walk to some extent. The reasons why they use wheelchairs vary but that doesn’t mean their needs aren’t as important as those who rely solely on a wheelchair for mobility.

Understanding the needs and challenges faced by this group of people is important for creating a truly inclusive Australia. 

Who are ambulatory wheelchair users?

The individuals who may be considered ambulatory wheelchair users are:

Spinal cord injuries

People with spinal cord injuries, but can still walk short distances with the use of crutches or canes but would need a wheelchair for longer distances.

Ambulatory Wheelchair Users in Australia: Stories of Inclusivity
Ambulatory Wheelchair Users in Australia: Stories of Inclusivity 1

Multiple sclerosis

People with multiple sclerosis need to use manual, electric or bariatric wheelchair since they may feel tiredness and fatigue in their legs and will need the use of a mobility product.

Cerebral palsy

A person with cerebral palsy may need wheelchairs from time to time. Aside from wheelchairs, they also use braces and other assistive devices for mobility.

Temporary injury

An injured person may need the help of a wheelchair while recuperating from their injuries. They will need a wheelchair while they regain their mobility and strength.

Chronic illness

People with chronic illnesses or any condition that affects their ability to walk are also considered ambulatory wheelchair users. They could independently transfer in and out of a wheelchair and walk short distances but at times will need to use one.

Challenges

Accessibility hurdles

Australia has made notable strides in making its public spaces accessible. But, ambulant wheelchair user or otherwise, still encounter challenges because of uneven surfaces, poorly maintained sidewalks and inadequate ramps to maneuver their manual and or electric wheelchair

Societal perceptions

Since the ambulatory wheelchair user, meaning is a person who still has mobility, some don’t consider them as a person with a disability. People often judge them for using mobility aids intermittently and are skeptical on the days when they don’t need one. This invalidates their conditions and experiences and results in them feeling excluded.

Employment opportunities

Although businesses in Australia are becoming more inclusive, some might not opt to hire them since they might have a hard time “categorising” them as employees with disabilities or as “normal” employees. It might even cause a misunderstanding with other employees who are not aware of the condition of ambulatory wheelchair users. 

Progress and initiatives

Public awareness campaigns

To address societal misconceptions, public awareness campaigns are necessary to understand the circumstances since the ambulatory wheelchair user statistics is 1 out of 3. These figures can still change since ambulatory wheelchair users will have varying conditions and their need for a wheelchair might fluctuate.

The public must be informed that there are individuals who live half of their lives needing a wheelchair and the other half out of it, but that doesn’t mean their needs for mobility aids are not as important as those who need a wheelchair 24/7.

Mobility aids specialist company supplier

Numerous mobility experts in Australia are providing their services and products for wheelchair users. These companies, like Gilani Engineering, enhance the overall mobility experience for the disability community. They provide the best wheelchair for ambulatory users or other mobility aids they might need. 

Community engagement

The awareness about their situation must come from the ambulatory community. Along with advocacy groups, ambulatory wheelchair users can actively provide their feedback that will help shape policies like how wide is a wheelchair and the appropriate measurement for doorways in public spaces to accommodate wheelchairs and other pertinent information that will inform the public about the challenges faced by wheelchair users.

Conclusion

When we see people who still have the use of their limbs despite seeing them use a wheelchair at times must not be a source of misjudgment. We need to treat them equally and fairly and make sure that they feel accepted.

FAQs

What is an ambulatory wheelchair user?

An ambulatory wheelchair user is a disabled individual who uses an electric or manual wheelchair at times but still has mobility. Their need for a wheelchair varies, regardless, they are still considered people with disabilities. 

What percentage of wheelchair users are ambulatory?

The percentage of ambulatory wheelchair users in the world varies but the figures are considerably significant.

  • In the USA, the percentage of ambulatory wheelchair users is 6.6%.
  • In the UK, of the 1.2 million wheelchair users are ambulatory.