Let's all stare at Shannon
Before I went to CELA this spring, I hadn’t met anyone who used a wheelchair. I mean, sometimes when family members took my grandmother to a mall or Disney World, they’d grab a wheelchair to help her get around because of her sore knees, but that’s about it.
Before I left for DC, I did some googling to find out how to avoid any rudeness on my part when I met the consumers there. (Do you crouch down to talk to people in wheelchairs? Do you just pretend they aren’t using one?)
Luckily, United Spinal has published a disability etiquette book online that offers a lot of tips—some of which I could have realized on my own (don’t use someone’s wheelchair to hold coats) and some that were new to me (If you offer a seat to a person who has limited mobility, keep in mind that chairs with arms or with higher seats are easier for some people to use.)
And, of course, the particular answer I was looking for: “When talking to a person using a wheelchair, grab your own chair and sit at her level. If that’s not possible, stand at a slight distance, so that she isn’t straining her neck to make eye contact with you.”
But even without United Spinal’s much-appreciated help, I could have guessed that it’s rude to stare at someone in a wheelchair. Especially considering it’s rude to stare at people, period.
Apparently, my mom was one of the only people to teach their kids that, since Shannon Devido says people stare at her all the time.
She’s a wheelchair user and an aspiring comedian who’s working on a new web series, “Stare at Shannon.”
"Being a wheelchair user my whole life, I have become very accustomed to the fact that I get stared at a lot when I'm out," she told Mashable.
"I don't really think about it any more - I just pretend it's because people are jealous. I figured out at a young age that walking is totally overrated. But really, if I'm going to be stared at anyway, why not be doing something awesome?"
Her first video is of trying to order fast food at the drive-thru. She’s also talking about taking a pole-dancing class or trying roller derby… should be something to see.