“How many wheelchair users have you seen on the street in the last week? How many in the last year?”
Depending on how big your city is and how often you are out and about, your answers likely vary widely. But if you live in the United States, chances are good that you’ve seen at least one — and probably many more — wheelchair users going about their daily lives in your area.
When Alexandra Kutas asked her university professors those same questions about their experience in Dnipropetrovsk in her native Ukraine, she was met with silence. In the country’s third-largest city, with almost 1 million residents, none of her professors could think of another wheelchair user they had seen.
Sadly, her experience is shared by millions of wheelchair users around the world. While progressive laws and attitudes slowly improve access and quality of life for wheelers in the United States and other countries like the United Kingdom and Australia, progress toward equality rolls more slowly in many other countries, sometimes not at all.
For Denisse Chavarria, the lack of accessibility in Costa Rica has literally slowed her roll, as the absence of