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SJHH / Patients & Visitors/ Accessibility/ Standards & Training/ Physical Disability

Physical Disability

Individuals Who Have Physical Disabilities

There are many types and degrees of physical disabilities, and not all require a wheelchair. People who have arthritis, heart or lung conditions or amputations may also have difficulty with moving, standing or sitting. It may be difficult to identify a person with a physical disability.

Types of assistance an individual might use:

  • Elevator
  • Mobility device (i.e., wheelchair, scooter, walker, cane, crutches)
  • Support person.

Guidelines for interacting with individuals who have physical disabilities:

  • Speak naturally and directly to an individual, not to his or her companion or support person.
  • If you need to have a lengthy conversation with someone in a wheelchair or scooter, consider sitting so that you can make eye contact.
  • Ask before you help. People with physical disabilities often have their own ways of doing things.
  • Respect an individual’s personal space. Do not lean over him or her or on his or her assistive device.
  • Don’t move items or equipment, such as canes and walkers, out of the person’s reach.
  • Don't touch assistive devices without permission. If you have permission to move a person in a wheelchair, remember to:
    • Wait for and follow the person’s instructions
    • Confirm that an individual is ready to move
    • Describe what you’re going to do before you do it
    • Avoid uneven ground and objects
    • Don’t leave the person in an awkward, dangerous or undignified position such as facing a wall or in the path of opening doors.
  • Let an individual know about accessible features in the immediate area (i.e., automatic doors, accessible washrooms, elevators, ramps, etc.).