What do People Who Use Wheelchairs Call Themselves?

Nov 17, 2019

Anonymous asks, quote:

Hi! I’m new to the online disabled community and I was wondering if there’s a term people in wheelchairs use to refer to ourselves? I despise the term “wheelchair‐bound” and “person in a wheelchair” is too clunky. With my friends I tend to call myself a “wheelie”, but I was wondering if there was a more universal/official term people use. Thanks!

end quote.

Good question. Amongst wheelchair users, it’s common to refer to yourself by whatever disability you have. For example, people with spina bifida are called “biffers”, quadriplegics are called “quads” and paraplegics are called “paras”. If these categories feel a little narrow, it’s because they were normalized before conditions like EDS and fibromyalgia were more widely known/recognized.

Generally speaking, people use the term “wheelchair user” to describe themselves and that’s the term I use when talking to a mixed group of disabled people.