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Reader question: Would you prefer able-bodied friends to "stoop to your level?"

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Daniel

We got a reader comment from Jeff in Michigan, asking which we prefer: that an able-bodied person bend down to talk to us, kneel down, or stay at their own height? Here's what Jeff had to say:
 
"A lot of people, myself included, would prefer to just talk to someone instead of them bending down to 'our level'...I think some people feel like it makes them feel like they are a kid again."
 
Chris's Take: As far as I'm concerned, I view it as a sign of respect when someone makes the effort to come down to my level. Ideally, the best way to do this is to kneel down or to pull up a chair so that we can have a conversation and be able to hear each other. It's also very useful for everybody to fit into a shot for a picture being taken. However, it can be awkward when someone leans against your chair for purposes of conversation, pictures, etc. It feels like an invasion of personal space, even though the person is probably well-intentioned. Also it can cause problems with your wheelchair where it may cause you to crash into a wall or someone else. In the rare instance where a person leans in almost as a false gesture the same way they would lean in towards a child, then it can be awkward and disrespectful. I have noticed that often it is adults who take the initiative to create and maintain eye contact. In my experience, the longer many people have been around, the more they realize that it is important to relate to others. I would rather have someone take steps to relate than to not even bother to do so at all. 

Dan's Take: I personally really enjoy when somebody kneels down to my level. It allows me to make eye-to-eye contact with them, which to me creates a more personal connection. The physical motion of somebody looming over me to listen does make me feel like a child in some sense, as it creates a more intimidating atmosphere. In terms of taking a picture, I would never get upset if someone kneeled down to my level. In fact some of the best pictures I've taken are when friends or family are next to me and we're all at the same head level. It makes me feel like more of an equal. This is all personal preference of course, both for the person with a disability and the able-bodied person with whom he's conversing. 

These are our views, but we'd love to hear some of yours, so please share!

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