How To Make The Holidays Disability Inclusive

The holidays can be a hard and lonely time for those living with disabilities, particularly mobility related ones.  Friends, family members, or co-workers with disability or chronic illness may wish to participate in various fun & festive holiday celebrations to which they receive an invite, but fear of there being too many physical or other challenges related to participating may get in the way of their accepting an invite. Or, they may not receive an invite at all because party planners know the venue or activities planned for a party would not be accessible to a disabled individual.

Why not be the co-worker or family member who takes the lead this year in ensuring that all work team, circle-of-friends, or family members can participate in whatever holiday parties are planned for the coming holiday season?

How To Ensure Disabled Co-workers, Friends, or Family Members Can Enjoy The Holidays

  1. Invite your disabled or chronically ill party guests to be members of the “party planning committee.” Whether it’s a formal committee, such as one at work, or an informal one made up of a few friends or family members who are planning a party for a larger group, make sure disabled guests have a seat at the party planning table. That way, they can weigh in about what party activities they’d enjoy and would be able to participate in. For example, they would likely share that a party solely focused on dancing, bowling, or physical games might leave them feeling left out and uninterested in attending.

  2. Before you select a location – whether it be a home or restaurant or event venue – ask yourself the following:

    1. Can both the building or home, and the main room where the party will take place within the building or home, be entered without needing to climb stairs? Is there a wheel chair ramp outside the building or home? Within the home or building, is there an elevator or inside wheel chair ramp to access the room if stairs are required to reach it?

    2. Is there a bathroom easily accessed from the room or rooms in which the party will be held that meets one of the following criteria:

      1. Includes a stall for disabled individuals

      2. Is a bathroom specifically designed and designated for disabled individuals

      3. has grab bars installed within the bathroom itself – think home bathroom – plus a toilet and sink that are accessible. Learn more about what makes for an  accessible bathroom.

    3. Are there designated handicapped parking spaces if the party will be held at a public venue versus someone’s home? Or, if the party will be held at someone’s home, is there the option to provide for a parking space near one of the home’s doors? Will there be an easy way for someone to drop the disabled individual at an entrance to the home or building?

  3. Designate a room or part of a room a quiet zone. This allows for a disabled individual, included one who may be sensitive to noise or other stimuli and/ or not used to being in large group settings, a chance to take a much-needed break/regroup.

  4. Arrange for a variety of party activities. If you plan to have a bunch of physical activities at your party, such as playing Twister, make sure you include less physical ones in which disabled individuals might participate, such as singing favorite holiday songs, watching a beloved holiday movie, or simply chatting around the fireplace or fire pit.

  5. Like party activities, make sure your food & beverage menu is varied. Keep in mind that some individuals may not be able to partake in alcohol due to interaction with medication, or for other reasons. So, be sure to have plenty of non-alcoholic beverages. In addition, some individuals with chronic digestive issues may not be able to tolerate a lot of raw food (nuts, vegetables, fruit, high-fiber bread, etc.), or food that is high-sugar, dairy, or contains nuts. Having a varied menu should support all guests finding something they are able to comfortably eat, and you should consider reaching out to individuals you know have dietary restrictions, prior to finalizing your menu, to ask about what foods and beverages they can and cannot consume.

Check out some additional tips from Easter Seals about how to make sure the holidays are inclusive of everyone! Plus, read our recent post about supporting the dignity and independence of individuals living with disability by making the right changes to your home.

Bring The Holiday Party To The Disabled Or Chronically Ill Individual

While it may not be appropriate to hold a work party at the home of a disabled colleague, friends or family members who are disabled may welcome your bringing the party to them. We don’t recommend surprising a disabled or ill family member or friend by showing up at their home unannounced with all the trappings of a party. But, if a disabled family member’s or friend’s home is large enough and lends itself to holding a gathering, why not ask if you can hold the party there if you think it will make it more likely for them to participate in the celebration?

To make it as easy as possible for the disabled individual in whose home the party will be held, you and your elves should offer to bring all the food and beverage, decorations, paper goods, and anything else needed to make for a fun party that can be enjoyed by all!

We’re Here To Help Make Your Home Accessible For The Holidays

The team at Lift & Care Systems specializes in making homes accessible. We can help you figure out which safety and accessibility products and durable medical equipment make sense to install in your particular home before disabled guests arrive for a few-days stay or a few-hours stay.

We’ve been helping individuals living with disability in MA, CT, and RI enjoy the best quality of life and greater independence for almost 30 years. Our skilled team can install and teach you how to correctly use one or several of the following types of products that help both seniors and disabled individuals enjoy more freedom and a higher quality of life: ceiling liftsbody support & slingsstaircase lift chairswheelchair rampsbathroom safety for seniors, mobile liftspool liftsvertical platform liftsaccessible showers, wall-to-wall patient lifts.

Reach out for a free consultation about how we can help you and your loved one related to accessibility and safety DME needs.




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