In my Classic Collection novel, Oklahoma Exile, the main character’s younger brother suffers leg injuries in an accident. For a time, he must use a wheel chair. Serena feels the accident was all her fault and suffers under a load of guilt. While Kris undergoes rehabilitation, Serena is sent to live with her Oklahoma farmer relatives.
When Kris and their mother come to the farm for a visit, Serena looks at the steep porch stairs of the farmhouse; then looks at Kris’s wheelchair. She realizes, at that moment, she will never look at a set of stairs the same, ever again.
Two Good Legs
If you have two good legs, you might not think much about wheelchair access, but to those who use a wheelchair, it makes the difference of whether or not they can enter into a store, or maneuver into a restroom stall, or navigate a street intersection.
You may be too young to remember when these innovations first came into being, but it hasn’t been that long ago. At one time, an upstairs restroom would present a barrier to that person in a wheelchair. And so were curbs on a street corner. While most kids look at “curb cuts” as a great convenience for their skateboards and bikes, those were designed with wheelchairs in mind.
Americans with Disabilities Act
It was the Americans with Disabilities Act that was signed into law in 1990, that started the most of the changes. (And many disabilities were addressed—not just those who are wheelchair-enabled.)
Next time you see a curb cut, a wheelchair-accessible restroom, elevator, or ramp; the next time you see a bus with a wheelchair lift, think about those who can now get around and enjoy a greater degree of independence simply because of a few adjustments to our known world.
People are in wheelchairs for many reasons. Kris was in an accident—riding on the back of a Moped when they were hit by a car. Many veterans have war injuries. Some people are wheelchair-enabled due to certain diseases, or birth disorders. But all have one thing in common, they are unable to walk on their own. A wheelchair is their ticket to freedom.
Joni Eareckson Tada
Here’s a photo of well-known Christian artist, author, singer, and disability-advocate, Joni Eareckson Tada. She’s been in a wheelchair since she was seventeen when she was injured in a diving accident. Joni is a testimony to the world that much can be accomplished in spite of physical limitations.
In Part II of this blog, you’ll meet a teenager who is wheelchair-enabled. It’s an incredible story! Read it HERE.