When planning your next holiday party, it’s important to make it accessible for people with disabilities. Take these extra measures to go above and beyond for all your guests.
1. Pick Your Venue
Before you invite your guests, you’ll want to think about a location that can accommodate all members of your party.
Accessible Parking Or Public Transport
You’ll want to ensure that your guests have easy access to up-close parking. Keeping the lot clean and well-lit at night is an added safety measure to consider for those with mobility impairments. Another thought is to arrange a valet service for the evening. People could drive directly to the door, exit their cars and a valet park the car, eliminating the need for up-close parking.
If people don’t have a means for transportation, you’ll want to guarantee your party venue is nearby public transportation. You can easily search for wheelchair-accessible routes on Google Maps. When guests leave your party, you can provide information on the safest and most accessible route home.
Accessible Lifts Or Ramps
When considering a venue, it’s essential to have ADA-accessible ramps or lifts available for guests with mobility issues. Most new buildings will have ramps and lifts built to ADA specifications. However, places of worship are exempt from following the guidelines. Keep this in mind when selecting an event location.
Additionally, if your venue room requires stairs, guarantee there is a working elevator for all guests. Another consideration is to check for lifted buttons, signs in braille and audio communication capability.
Suppose your event location doesn’t already provide ADA-accessible bathrooms. In that case, you can easily rent a three-stall restroom trailer that accommodates your guests. Or consider this option if you think you’ll need additional bathroom space during your event.
An ADA-approved restroom trailer combines luxury and comfort–each stall is spacious and has its sink. The entire unit has heat and air conditioning as well as a wheelchair-accessible ramp.
You’ll want to think about the comfort of any guest’s guide dog who will also be in attendance. Will the event venue have easy access to the outdoors for toileting? Can the event accommodate water for the guide dog?
2. Send Invitations
When you send out invitations to your guests, be sure to include a line regarding special accommodations. Not everyone’s disability is visible, and if your goal is inclusion, this is the perfect way to do so. Additionally, add a note about dietary restrictions. You don’t want to cause one of your guests an allergic reaction accidentally.
3. Plan the Event Details
Based on your guest’s RSVPs, you’ll have a clearer sense of the event details you need to plan.
Standing or Sitting
Are you choosing to have a stand-up or sit-down party? It ultimately depends on the results of your guest list and how they answered the special accommodations portion of the invitation. The event venue will also impact how you plan your event.
The safest party approach is to perhaps plan for both options, having a venue section available with tables and chairs for sitting. Ensure you leave space at tables so those who use a wheelchair have access to join. There can also be another part of the room dedicated to guests mingling, with high tables, where people can put glasses and plates of food. Try to have these areas as close together as possible, so guests feel like they can circulate naturally from both groups.
At the same time, you’ll want to be conscious of space for guests in wheelchairs. Make sure that there are clear paths for them to maneuver around certain areas. This is a good rule for all parties as you want safety to be a priority and no one to trip on clutter.
If any guests have identified allergies, be careful to avoid serving those specific foods at your party. It is probably wise to avoid serving foods that commonly cause allergies like peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish or soybeans unless you know your guests are not severely allergic. For guests who have dietary questions, it might be best to label the foods you serve and any significant ingredients in a dish.
When planning your event, you’ll, of course, have your food and the natural socialization that occurs with eating. But you’ll also want to think about some activities for your guests. Consider entertainment that can be enjoyed by all and that involves various levels of accessibility. Try trivia or party games that require an emcee and two teams. Or divide up by tables and have everyone pick a different board game.
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