Elevator Etiquette

The elevator is such a convenience in buildings nowadays that we take it for granted when we need to access other floors in multi-storey buildings. Yet in this time and age, it is surprising that people still do not know how to use elevators properly.

They crowd around the entrance and rush in the moment the doors open without even allowing the occupants inside to exit first. Some use their shopping trolleys like a battering ram to intimidate others into allowing them to get in first. That is Malaysian kiasuism at its ugliest.

We should use the elevators like we use other public facilities. Courtesy and politeness should be the order of the day. The following is a list of good elevator etiquettes that I have compiled from experience and observing other elevator users, polite and inconsiderate ones, in my weekly jaunts to shopping malls.

1. Adhere to queuing rules. First come first served. If you are in a rush, the stairs are a faster alternative.

2. Stand aside to allow occupants of the elevator to come out before getting in. It is inconsiderate to push your way in when people are still coming out.

3. Hold the door for others to get in if you are the first or only person inside an elevator. Many times, I had the door closing on me after the person before me had walked in, with both hands empty and morosely watched as the door hit my wheelchair.

4. Hold the door open for others if you are standing beside the control panel. Likewise close the door when no one else wants to get in or out.

5. Thank the person holding the door open for you.

6. Move all the way to the back to allow more people to get in. Don’t stand right in front of the elevator even when there is enough space at the back to hold another five persons.

7. If you are deep at the back when the elevator reaches your floor, be polite and ask those in front of you to give way instead of pushing your way out. Say something like: “Excuse me, this is my floor.” Thank them when you are out.

8. Avoid taking the elevators if you are coughing or sneezing repeatedly from influenza. Some things are not meant to be shared. This is one of them.

9. Don’t push a wheelchair without asking if assistance is needed. Most time it is not. The wheelchair is an extension of the user’s body. Pushing the wheelchair without asking is like pushing a non-disabled person on the shoulder, which is not only rude but could cause the person to fall from the unanticipated action.

10. And lastly, hold that fart!

Monster Blog – January 25, 2007: Wheelchair Etiquette

Wheelchair Etiquette

The wheelchair is a very personal piece of equipment. It is the means of mobility for people who cannot walk. Most users treat it with respect. Truly, it is one of the most important implements for people with mobility problems. It enhances the lives of millions of people around the world, not only that of the users but the carers of the users as well.

Just like there are social etiquettes, there are etiquettes related to interacting with wheelchair users too. The Wheelchair Etiquette was based on Ric Garren in the Challenge Magazine. Firstly, the space around the wheelchair should be respected like how we respect the personal space of the people around us. I have had friends and strangers who invade this space by resting their feet on the push rims and happily shaking their legs away. Imagine the discomfort of sitting in a chair that is being shaken vigorously.

Always ask first before providing assistance to wheelchair users. Sometimes it may not be needed. Most people who offer to help mean well but handling a wheelchair the wrong way may endanger both the user and the helper. The armrests and legrests of many wheelchairs are detachable. Therefore it is best to ask where to hold when there is a need to lift the wheelchair over barriers or up the stairs.

When speaking to a disabled person, always speak to him directly instead of through his personal assistant or carer. Most wheelchair users have faced similar situations. It is annoying wanting to buy something only to have the sales staff asking the personal assistant as if the disabled persons cannot speak for himself. Likewise if a conversation is going to last more than a few minutes, it is only polite to continue talking at eye level by either sitting down or kneeling to prevent the wheelchair user from having to maintain an uncomfortable posture.

Lastly, having to use a wheelchair is not a tragedy. I have met politicians exclaiming “Oh my God!” after being told that I have been using a wheelchair for twenty two years. The wheelchair is just another mode of mobility much like the bicycle. On the other hand, it is a real tragedy that most local authorities do not see the need and urgency to create a barrier-free environment in their respective municipalities although there are legislations and standards to deal with this issue. This non-action has greatly limited the mobility of wheelchair users in public places. Perhaps these municipal officials are in dire need of learning the etiquettes on how to be effective public servants.