In the last two weeks, I have been shocked to find two people in wheelchairs publicly collecting.
The first guy was on Grafton street with a bucket on his lap, and a neon jacket flashing the sign “Help The Disabled”.
This is suspicious, because of the very broadness that the word “disabled” implies. Is he talking physical, intellectual or sensory?.
The other guy was in the Ilac centre, lonely looking in an electric wheelchair collecting for M.E, which I very much doubt he had himself, on top of his other conditions.
My main problem, is the picture that seeps and lingers, in peoples minds. That of a wheelchair user and a “charity” bucket. The good cause he is collecting for is unfortunately, completely overlooked.
What is the remembered picture, for the eager 2013 shopper’s,that had to negotiate around his centrally positioned wheelchair?
There was no avoiding him, just like there will be no avoiding the results of negative stereotypes, that the rest of us have to endure on a daily basis.
I put up the above poster, taken in a shopping centre in Dublin, that illustrates how the person gets lost, and all that is left is the chair. Surely the above sign should have made reference to “wheelchair users”.
Sometimes it feels like we are the mangled refugees of some other distant, and very decrepit planet.
So next time they strap on their begging bowls, they should think more about the stereotypes they are helping to perpetuate, and ask themselves if its really worth it?