“Disabled doesn’t mean you can’t do something. It just means you do things differently.

You can do anything that you put your mind to!”

First hand accessibility experience by Marshall Hohmann, who shares his life challenges, as well as achievements as a person with Quadriplegic, non-verbal Cerebral Palsy. He believes and hopes to inspire others, give voice to those that cannot speak for themselves. 

accessibility by Marshall


You’re on your merry way to pick up food for your family. You don’t expect anything exciting or out of the ordinary to happen. You just mind your own business and walk or in my case wheel around in the store. The aisles are nice and wide and if you time it right, you can eat your way through a shopping trip, although given the bill at the end, it’s better not to go into the store hungry. Of course, your attendant is with you to assist as you shop because of the fact that your hands can’t do the things that you need them to do!

People are congratulating you, because you are able to drive power wheelchair through the store, which I can understand takes a lot of skill to do especially with your head, but really people, congratulating me for my ability to shop?  The odd person asks if my wheelchair is controlled by my mind, as if I have powers or something crazy like that. I am not moving my head left and right for no reason. I literally have to do left and right head movements to turn corners and go down a different aisle, or to move the cursor on my computer. I am driving a power wheelchair responsibly and people undermine my knowledge and intellect all the time. You would think I would be used to that by now.

Common sense will tell you if I can back my chair up into a corner and work on a laptop which is mounted on my chair, I have everything together upstairs right? Perhaps I need a big laminated neon poster sign on the chair that says presume competence? I wish I can jump out of my chair and say; “Okay try driving my wheelchair with your head have at it!” Even a little kid learns about stop signs and on my drives around the neighborhood people say “STOP” to me when I am at a traffic light.

There is a lot of funny people who approach me the wrong way.. I’ll give you some examples.

 I am changing modes on my chair to run my voice output device, and they keep repeating the question as I am typing my answer and it gets annoying. They can see I’m typing good grief!

Or, my personal favourite, they ask me something and then walk away. I just think, okay so I wasted my energy on typing something for no reason for you. People want a response from me in seconds but the reality is I can’t, unless my computer can read my mind, which that would be amazing because I would get this blog done in a day rather then taking multiple days.


Being slow and deliberate and actually thinking about what you type helps you think about what you are going to say. The head switch also doesn’t allow me to send quickly, so checking what I am sending before I send, is a good thing. Maybe it would be better for everyone one to slow down and think, before opening one’s mouth, or saying something hurtful especially in print….that stuff that can incriminate you as well. My grandpa always told me never put on paper that which can incriminate you. Wise words Grandfather. Just let me live my life! I am thankful for the concern of people but it gets to me. Again, its education, education, education! Some people totally understand my intelligence so it makes it easier to interact with people and it starts a friendship. Others assume that I can’t think for myself.


I had this lady stop me from leaving Costco because I was not with my assistant. When my assistant finally caught up with me and asked the lady what she was doing, this lady’s reply was, “He is all by himself, helpless.” Really? She could of just asked me if I was okay rather then making a big deal.

This preventative thing has happened before. One gentleman stepped in front of me while I was motoring along and the same deal happened except, he kept hanging onto the chair and I ran over his sandal before I could stop and broke it. Even after that he kept on hanging onto the chair, not allowing me to go into the parking lot where my van was.

SERIOUSLY. Brute for punishment.

Even the grocery checkers at the door upon leaving all know me now and they tell people to leave me alone and say that he knows what he’s doing.

The sweetest people to encounter there though, are the check out ladies. They are kind, understanding, they get me, they converse with me, and come around to get my bank card from my wallet around my neck. They are professional and VERY EASY on the eyes.

So my shopping event is always full of unexpected scenarios, but at the final checkout the girls definitely make the trip to Costco worth my while.

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