Have you ever been left out of or not invited to a party? I hope not.
This happens to many people during the holidays, especially if their needs aren’t met and they can’t participate in part or all of events. Accommodating people with disabilities isn’t as difficult as people think.
The Two-Step Party Aid
When preparing to include people with disabilities in a celebration or party, planners should Seek and Ask.
Seek to make sure that people with disabilities are invited and feel welcome to attend and share their accommodations needs. Party emails can indicate for guests to call ahead with their needs.
Then planners should Ask individuals what their needs are and be creative with problem solving for special situations.
Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, President of RespectAbility USA, an organization that seeks to “reshape the attitudes of American society” about people with disabilities and “empower people with disabilities to achieve as much of the American dream as their abilities and efforts permit,” wrote an editorial in The Huffington Post about ways to include people with disabilities at your party.
What’s her first tip for including people with disabilities in your event? Ask.
According to the article, “If you know someone has a disability, use a simple strategy — ask the person what they need to be fully included.”
Needs Vary by Person
Each individual is specific.
One time, a friend told me that the buffet tables were too high for her to reach from a wheelchair. Other users might be able to reach the table, but need help plating their food.
Many people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing want some quiet spaces where they can speak with others without competing noise. Some members of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing community like loud music so they can feel the beat. They might appreciate important song lyrics ahead of time so they will know what is being said in the song if it has an important meaning to your event.
A particularly beautiful way to enjoy events is through the use of sign language interpreters, who can add words, the beat, and the feeling of the song to their interpretation. Not everyone knows sign, so it’s important to ask.
People with Low Vision often appreciate more lighting. They also may appreciate time to get to know the area before everyone arrives, as do many people who are Blind.
An Autism self-advocate told me loud noise bothered him and he needed ear plugs, and no strobe or flashing lights because they trigger headaches.
For people with Epilepsy, strobe or flashing lights (even police or ambulance lights) can bring on a seizure.
Parties that include everyone and make them feel welcome extends a warmth to all guests that enriches your party.