Snow keeps wheelchair users’ wheels spinning

Local wheelchair users share their difficulties getting around town in the snow, and how others can help pave the way
Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 12:27 AM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Besides trekking through the snow and slush, wheelchair users and others with disabilities can have a tough time getting around.

“It’s very difficult and I know it’s something a lot of people struggle with,” says Tenesha Ulrich, the President of United Spinal of Northwest Ohio.

We shadowed Tenesha while she was looking for a usable parking spot in downtown Perrysburg. The snow and ice can make for a more challenging task than usual -- especially when parking lots, walkways, and other common areas aren’t as accessible.

“It’s hard enough just to get the chair out of the car and get the chair to where the ramp is,” says Ulrich. “My wheels kept wanting to slide, there was a portion that was bumpy and it’s hard to make it through those hurdles.”

Allie Leatherman is part of SCI Connect. She usually meets with other members and friends downtown but can have second thoughts about leaving the house in the winter.

“It feels often times that we’re put on the backburner, and people don’t think oftentimes about people with mobility issues getting out of places,” says Leatherman. “The biggest thing is access aisles, keeping your ramps clean, so we can get in and out.”

To avoid these additional obstacles, chair users want to remind business owners, snowplow drivers, and others responsible for clearing pathways to be conscious of others.

“I’ve been stuck, just spinning my wheels as they say,” says Dan Wilkins with The Ability Center. “Don’t assume people with disabilities don’t go out in this kind of weather because we do, sometimes we have to, and so don’t push all the snow into the accessible spaces, assuming nobody’s going to be parking there.”

“We’re a part of the community and the more we can be out and about the better it is for all of us,” adds Ulrich.

Additionally, The Ability Center advises chair users to stay connected with neighbors, landlords, and others close by who could help.

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