Is it Rude to Kneel Down Next to a Wheelchair User?

Sep 19, 2018

Anonymous asks, quote:

I’m hard of hearing, so it’s very hard for me to hear people speaking when there’s lots of background noise or they are not speaking in my direction. I have always been told it is rude to bend down when speaking to people in wheelchairs, but sometimes I can’t hear the person talking if I don’t try to move closer to them. What should I do? Is there a way to move closer without having to interrupt and explain why?

end quote.

If you can’t hear the person speaking, it’s acceptable to squat down next to them or lean in so you can hear better. If you feel like explaining why, you could say “I’m sorry, my hearing isn’t great, can you repeat that?”

I have no problem with people lowering themselves or leaning in so they can hear me speak. I project my voice when I talk because I know my height makes it hard to hear me in loud environments.

Kneeling down so you can hear someone in a wheelchair better is not rude. Kneeling down or leaning towards a person in a wheelchair and talking to them like they’re a child is rude. As long as your body language and tone are respectful, most wheelchair users aren’t going to be upset if you move closer to them so you can hear better.