Photo Credit: Alice Marie Perreault
Who is Bound?
Concept exploration at Spark Box Studio Residency, Canada
To be "wheelchair bound" is to be bound by a burden perceived by those who are ambulatory. The real burden is not in the wheelchair, but in the perception of the wheelchair. And the perception is perpetuated by words that deny dignity to the person using the chair. These perceptions get in the way of building an integrated wheelchair accessible world of universal design. So, I ask, "Who is bound?" Is the individual using the wheelchair bound TO the chair or bound BY the chair? Is the ambulatory person using the words "wheelchair-bound" to describe the person in the wheelchair, bound to a suppressive idea? What does it mean to be bound?
When a book is bound, the pages are held together in a sensical way that work for the good of the book. Does a wheelchair prevent someone from being bound to community or provide the means to be part of community? When a person is homeward bound, the individual is returning to roots and family. On the other hand, someone who is home bound conjures up a very different image of a different feeling about home.
A person who uses a wheelchair, uses it for mobility. Is mobility bound to a place where boundaries have been placed? Am I bound to fail? What is wheelchair bound-ness? Who is doing the binding?
Photo Credit: Jill Carol
"Does your son use an electric chair?"
"No. Electric chairs are used for executions.
My son uses a power chair."