Disability blogger and campaigner Kerry Thompson, who has Muscular Dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, gives us her top 5 tips for making Christmas parties accessible.
December is here! The shops are filled with Christmas Trees and decorations, the bars and restaurants are advertising booking Christmas parties, it’s a perfect time to offer some tips that will ensure your workplace party is inclusive for disabled people.
It’s easy to get excited and carried away with finding the perfect venue, ordering the set menu and organising secret Santa but in all this excitement, it can be easy to forget to ensure your disabled colleagues can have the same experience as everybody else.
Tip 1 ~ Accessibility
Picking the right venue that caters for everybody vital and probably the most important, for any work colleagues that use wheelchairs or walking aids, they will need step-free access into the building as well as around the building and toilets. I recommend using AccessAble website and App to ensure the venue will meet your requirements, ensuring that there is adequate parking outside the venue, especially if the venue is of driving distance away from any public access. It’s an idea to check all lifts are in full working order if the venue has them. By using AccessAble, you know that venues are checked by trained surveyors, which gives reliable, factual information to meet everyone's needs.
Tip 2 ~ Toilets
Having access to the toilet is a must, imagine not being able to use a toilet, nothing worse than going to a party and restricting fluids while you're there. Check that the venue has a large enough accessible toilet, or even better find a venue that has a changing places toilet that caters for people with more complex needs. It provides a height-adjustable adult size bed, hoist and a toilet central to the wall for easy transfer on both sides. You can even rent a Changing Place on wheels called Mobiloo for your event.
The AccessAble Website and App will help find the right facilities that suit the needs you’re looking for including accessible, ambulant, changing place and gender-neutral toilets.
Tip 3 ~ A Variable Menu Selection
By this, I am not suggesting that you go all fancy with foie gras to crab sticks! A menu that is mindful of all dietary requirements is vital. Booking a pizza place then finding out a guest has coeliac disease or diabetes could cause some issues. When you're sending out invites or emails ask people if they have any dietary requirements.
Tip 4 ~ Enough Space
Earlier, I touched on accessibility in venues, something else to consider is whether your guests who use wheelchairs or have a visual impairment can move around the space once in the venue. Rustic floor tiles, whilst looking authentically old can cause problems for wheelchair users, people with limited or no sight, as well anyone with walking aids.
Tip 5 ~ Noise & Atmosphere
Imagine a venue with loud music and crowds of people, then imagine your sitting in a chair when everybody else around you is standing. How much do you think you could hear? It wouldn’t be a great deal. Finding a venue that is slightly less crowded might be an issue if you’re looking at a venue holding several parties at once, and you have any guests with sensory disabilities like anxiety, autism or hearing loss they will also struggle with overcrowded, overstimulated situations.
I hope these tips have helped you to think about how your Christmas celebrations can be more inclusive. Put your glad rags on and have an AccessAble party!