WHY campaign 12th: WHY are trolley and wheelchair different?

Trolley or wheelchair? Most people think it doesn’t matter, because both are used by people who cannot walk. As a result, the choice of words is inconstant, causing a huge confusion in experts and in the people who use such equipment.

Considering, a trolley is something that needs to be pushed. It is a medical equipment, which cannot be used alone. The person sitting in one needs to be pushed by someone, this way handling certain situations is much easier and faster for the nurse. They are mostly seen in health care institutions, especially in american hospital series, where everyone is being pushed around in these, even if they are able to walk. You could also see trollies at airports, my mother was put in one as well, when she tried to communicate in hungarian in Switzerland. They asked her to sit in a trolley and pushed her to the correct gate, it was much more simple.

A wheelchair however, presumes activity, dare I say, it allows our main goal, independent living. They are used anywhere by the disabled in favor of their transport and access: when working, hiking, doing sports, taking a bus, going to the cinema, anywhere…. It is certainly smaller than a trolley. They could be moved by hand, motorized device can be put in front of it, or it could also be electronic, which however is a very heavy phenomena, approximately 100 kilos. There’s no need to push them by hand though, they have engines and they could be operated by various methods, even by our heads.

There is a separate category for the madcap people, who practice sports actively, so they have a special sports wheelchair. With these they can even play rugby, basketball or ride bikes – at a very high level.

 All in all: a trolley presumes passivity. If you use this expression instead of a wheelchair, it is hurtful for the disabled who don’t live passively at all.

Wheelchairs are necessities for an active life, when due to disabilities you cannot run around on both legs, but you still live your life just like anyone else.

WHY campaign 11th: WHY don’t all deaf people use the same sign language?

Did you know that the sign languages used by people with hearing loss in England, Germany or Hungary are all different? In other words, deaf people in Japan, Hungary, Finnland, or the US use different signs. In addition, there is an international sign language, called Gestuno language, although, just like Esperanto, it is slow to spread. Moreover, sign languages also have dialects: in Hungary only, we distinguish a total of 7 dialects. There are language families, with different word order and grammar. And most surprisingly, there is sign language slang!

At first glance, all of this makes just about as much sense as having der/die/das in German: people simply chose to complicate their lives. But, in fact, these national sign languages have developed naturally, just like spoken languages and we have no explanation for this Babylonian Chaos.

A common basis for all sign languages is expressing an event through movement, somebody’s characteristic movement, or shape (e.g.: stir, boat, cradle, rock, be born, give birth). You also probably didn’t know that expressions used in sign languages are simplified, for example, a sentence such as ‘Tomorrow I will go to the shops and buy bread and milk.’ would sound something like this: ‘Tomorrow will go shop buy bread milk.’

Let’s not forget though that sign languages have some important rules too: you must be accurate in showing the sign, and gestures, facial expressions as well as posture are important parts of communication.

For better communication, people often articulate silently while signing. But even this needs to be done with care, the speaker needs to articulate more slowly than usual, without over-articulating, and can only use it to accompany signing.

And one more thing to remember: we sign, we do not gesticulate!

WHY campaign 10th: WHY are „Quiet Hours” a good thing?

The so called „quiet hours”, better known as Autism Hours is a movement, to provide autism-friendly shopping experience and promotes the acceptance of autistics. There are also more and more autism-friendly events arranged, like concerts, theater performances, movie screenings. Some of the main appeals are dimmed lights, toned down music and audible warnings (if there are any) in order to reduce sensory input, what is quite desirable for the target audience: autistics, their loved ones, their caretakers.

Many autistics have sensory processing differences: our senses have to take in everything, what is visible, audible, touchable, or can be tasted, smelt, without a filter – we are on a concert of senses with the maximum volume on, each and every day. Moreover, there are also a bunch of unexpected events: someome touches you, comes very close to you, seeking or even forcing eyecontact while talking to you, the annoying music is interrupted with messages to the customers or the employees. A baby starts to cry, than another… some terrifyingly loud phones, bells are ringing beside the beeps of scanners, cash registers. At the self-checkout, someone did something incorrectly, so this machine also goes off with beeps, lights, etc…

Did you ever shop like an autistic? Have a try, here is a great visual thanks to the YouTube user „streamofawareness”:    

Horrible quality, isn`t it? The hurricane of sounds, the brittled image… All of this is on purpose: it is a very good simulation of what an autistic person has to endure now and then, for example when shopping. To do the usually easy-peasy grocery round with an overloaded nervous system is actually a very hard job, so we often decide to interrupt our shopping/partaking in an event and we flee on our own or with assistance…

For similar reasons, a walk in a zoo, going to a concert, to watch a movie or to wait in different institutions can give a hard time for us. There are other obstacles autistics and their assistance have to overcome in this noisy, confusing non-autistic world: our behaviours, reactions differ from the usual, the typical and at the same time many misconceptions about autism are out there – this is often generating fear, because of this we, our chaperon might get insulted, even assaulted.

Autism Hours make these events, experiences enjoyable or at least less uncomfortable to autistics, and promotes autism acceptance. We won`t get gawked on when we avoid eyecontact or are wearing hearing protection, tinted glasses, or might behave autipycally, for instance when we are rocking, making sounds, flap our hands. With the help of a properly trained staff, even an overload or a meltdown can be easier to deal with: they can call our chaperon or they can walk us to a safe place.

An interesting side effect of Autism Hours is, that not only autistics are enjoying the concept and the opportunity of a silent event.

Want to know more about autism? Check out these links:

Thanks to our association member “Anthea Aspie” for the sensual description!

WHY campaign 9th: WHY can assistance dogs go EVERYWHERE?

Did you know, that assistance dogs can diverse, they not only guide visually impaired people? They can also help for mobility-impaired in everyday life, indicate sound for hearing impaired, indicate epileptic or other seizures, but it exist personal assistant dog to help in independent living, and therapy dog who is involved in pedagogical or psychiatric rehabilitation. You need to know that not only the dogs, but also their owners have undergone a hard training and even taken an exam.

The owners of these intelligent dogs can enter anywhere with them lawfully. Yes, anywhere. Although some workers of institutions or even disabled people don’t know exactly the relevant legislation. Most of the false complains or even relegations come from catering units, shops, playgrounds or markets. In these cases they either don’t let the disabled person go in with his dog – but he can’t get by without him- or they make him put a muzzle on the dog. As the above list shows, this way the dog wouldn’t be able to help his owner.  How could he warn the owner about danger if it can’t bark? How could he bring it’s owner an important device if it can’t open it’s mouth? 

And it’s something like again that isn’t a potential, a possibility, it is a must to be provided. The Hungarian Equal Rights Authority takes these offenses as discrimination complaints and begins the administrative procedure against the institution, the operator. 

The law enumerates examples of places where people can bring their assistance dogs (e.g. public transport, shops, supermarkets, catering units, malls, markets, accommodations, playgrounds, public institutions, child institutions.) However, people with disabilities can also enter ALL THE OTHER PLACES with his guide dog which aren’t mentioned in the law. He DOESN’T HAVE TO PUT A MUZZLE on the dog, but he needs to show a distinctive sign on the dog and also the logo of the dog’s training organization. The assistance dog can only be banned from the area if it is endangering others physical safety. Although let’s just say it, this would be very rare in the case of a trained guide dog. 

It’s important to know that the assistance dog is working with it’s owner so however cute or pretty it is it cannot be petted and we shouldn’t take it as an insult if the owner doesn’t let it either.  If we did, we would distract the dog and endanger the safety of the disabled owner. The case is the same when it comes to giving food to the dog. It can only be fed by it’s owner, therefore don’t offer food don’t tempt him. 

Relevant Hungarian legislation:

A segítő kutyák gazdáinak jogait és kötelezettségeit a fogyatékos személyek jogairól és esélyegyenlőségük biztosításáról szóló 1998. évi XXVI. törvény. 

A segítő kutya kiképzésének, vizsgáztatásának és alkalmazhatóságának szabályairól szóló 27/2009. (XII. 3.) SZMM rendelet 

Thanks to Evelin Almádi for your additional thoughts!

WHY campaign 8th: WHY has Braille writing still a reason to exist?

Many people know about Braille writing, that it is a writing system consisting of point combinations, and it can be read by touch by visually impaired people. It was developed by Louis Braille, based on 6 points just like the dice.

But it is probably not known that there are separate Braille alphabets for German, English etc.. You probably didn’t know either, that we can display not just letters, but numbers and symbols used in maths, physics, and chemistry, IT signs, sheet music etc.

It is also interesting, that we distinguish full writing, where each braille letter is displayed, and brief writing, where we write the text in abbreviated form.

It is clear, that such a smart system is modern and relevant even in the XXI. century. Braille writing is not only a paper based system but Braille is also available on computers, smart phones, etc..  Braille display is still available if the phone or laptop is not there, or if the battery is flat.

It is also important, that the tactile writing system is the only possibility for blind or visually impaired people to experience INDEPENDENT reading, which is in no way equal to a text read by a speech synthesizer or by another person.


WHY campaign 7th: WHY you need to talk to a hearing impaired frontwise?

We don’t know which ear can hear, how can hear, even if can hear the hearing impaired person, so talk to him/her always frontwise. Maybe touch him/her gently (!) and wait for eye contact. Don’t turn away later, keep the eye contact, moreover it is easier for them you understand if they can see your full body and body language.

It is needless to shout, over-articulate, use too simple sentences, but gabble is also not good.

For many hearing impaired person it is unpleasant ask back if they didn’t understand something. So, do it you, ask sometimes if they understand you. If not, don’t repeat the same word five times, try another synonym.

Don’t talk at the same time in a company, don’t eat, chewing gum, cover your mouth while talking.

Hearing damage means no way intellectual disability, don’t treat so deaf people. Communicate with them is not easy, but with little attention can be solved even as with able bodied people. 

WHY campaign 6th: WHY don’t you talk instead?

Do you remember when we were a child and the doctor discussed with our parents first how ill we are, what our symptoms are?

As an adult, wouldn’t a similar scenario hurt bother or even annoy us? Unfortunately disabled

people still face distinction like that. The doctor, the administrator or even the man of the street would contact the healthy person/assistant that escort them. It’s even typical in case of blind people, maybe because a visually impaired person usually can’t make eye contact with the person who wants to talk to them. Because of that people mostly don’t even bother trying to talk to them, they’d rather talk to the accompanying even if their words aren’t meant for them. If people don’t directly talk to a blind person and they can detect it from the context it obviously hurts their feelings.

Though people living with visual, hearing or locomotor disability can perfectly understand and reply to us.

It is important that we don’t take the chance of disabled people to communicate, to share their opinions and to make responsible decisions! We can make huge differences towards equal opportunity with small things, such as address our message to the disabled person instead of their helpers. The helper’s task is not to speak instead of the disabled but assist her/him.

(Thank you Róbert Rauch for your thoughts!)


WHY campaing 5th: WHY do disabled people use straws?

It might be strange that we support straws when every respectable restaurant is withdrawing those environment damaging tubes. Even though they are necessary for most disabled people so because of being barrier-free some cafés will have to keep some in their inventory – in an environment friendly form.

But why do we need straws? I’ll present it for you with an easy example, a personal experience: about six months ago I was at a conference where they didn’t have any glasses for disabled people and I thought that I’m not going to embarrass myself by using a straw, I’ll drink out of the ceramic mug. For the sake of ease I always keep my bag in my lap. Needless to say that after my attempt neither was I nor the stuff in my bag thirsty anymore under the pretext of drying on the radiator.

Inhibited people or people in wheelchairs are not only unable to move their legs but usually they can’t use their hands in all aspects. They’re missing the skill of lifting, squeezing, or they have muscle weakness but there could be many reasons that makes them unable to grip or lift a glass. However, you need to drink.

Nevertheless the mass produced unrecyclable straws are expired. We don’t stand by them either. But there are great alternatives: washable plastic and metal ones, degradable ones. These are not only environmentally conscious – the kind we like – but also appropriate for disabled people as well.

That’s how born at the same time people-, and eco-friendly solutions!

(Thank you Roland Balogh!)

WHY campaign 4: Why do people in wheelchairs go on the roads instead of the pavement?!

Able bodied people walk on them easily. They only get bothered by a wall-mounted car or by the pavement being torn up. The sidewalk for people in wheelchairs though is a real obstacle course.

Getting on the footway in the city centres is easier because of the recessed design of the curbs but it’s much more difficult if there is a berm. The most problematic thing is probably the ascension and the descension of electric wheelchairs because they weigh 100kgs.

And we can’t get relief even if we’re on the pavement. We have to face multitude of barriers: the sidewalk being torn up, asphalt fragments, cobbles, stairs formed in steep streets, car exits, ruptured parts from the roots of trees, uncovered drains, protruding steps, outsourced advertising signs, old quarter’s narrow though ‘romantic’ lanes, cars parked on the footway, bus stop on the sidewalk.

So we are sometimes forced to go (slowly) on the roads willy-nilly with our electric mopeds taking in account the risk of accidents, keeping the traffic, the  driver’s repatriation.

If it’s already like that what can we – people in wheelchairs do? We plan our routes early, we go on roads with little traffic, and we explore the unknown crossroads with the help of Google Map’s street view function.

(Thanks our member Zoltán Koppány for the experiences!)

WHY campaign 3: WHY are the barrier-free hotel rooms different?

Because in wheelchair sitting we need a bit different accommodations: higher bed as the average (58-60 cm) which is a level in the wheelchair that allows of lifting somebody.

The room door is wider, there is no threshold and carpet. The room is so big that the car can turn, the handles, switches are available and if it possible there are sliding doors. The red wire hanging from the wall needed for help request.

In the bathroom are the biggest weirdnesses: there is no shower tray because we couldn’t roll in with wheelchair. We need there a folding seat, and on both sides of the toilet properly equipped clingings. A bigger place is also needed here. Under the sink there must be access to a wheelchair and the mirror has to be lower or adjustable.

Maybe this all sounds like a lot but it’s the only way we can travel. A barrier-free accommodation usually can be created with good intentions without a problem.

It’s good to be on your guard and before booking a room should be consulted the reception if the barrier-free advertised hotel really is!

Thank you for reading this!

And thank you for our members Alexa Dékán and Zoltán Koppány the assistance in the description!