How To Make Family Functions Easier For Disabled People

Summertime is a time where many of us go to a lot of barbeques and family functions. During this pandemic many of us many have canceled these family functions to keep everyone well but regardless of what you think of the situation, you can’t prevent everyone from doing stupid things and attending parties. People will still have parties and I don’t think we need to cut everyone off or tell people they shouldn’t go to function because they will regardless of many times you tell them they shouldn’t do something the more they will want to.  If you want to encourage someone not to attend an event because your worried they could become ill it might be better to express your concern instead of flat tell them they shouldn’t go but let’s be real here people are still going to attend parties whether or not you approve of them. Instead of telling people how they are part of the problem and that they should stay home let’s take a different approach people might actually listen to and help make a disabled person’s life easier when attending these events. When it comes down to you have no control over whether or not someone will party all night and you can either help them get through the event safely by giving them practical tips or shame them which at some point will start to be ignored.

Remember that you don’t have to attend- Before I get into anything I wanted to address something that seems to be making a lot of people upset. Everyone has different opinions on whether or not you should leave your home and you’re entitled to your own opinion but let me remind you that even if you think someone should not be hosting a party because it’s risk people are still going to. You have two options and that is don’t go or tell them how wrong is and that they are part of the problem. If it was me I just wouldn’t go if I was uncomfortable being somewhere because telling someone they are part of the problem only creates tension in a relationship and doesn’t really make them want to change their plans. If you are uncomfortable leaving your house for family functions you can express that to your family or bring your mask at family functions to protect yourself but whatever that decision your family will support you because they would much rather you not show up and feel safe than you do and not enjoy yourself from being too stressed.

Consider the noise level–  Loud noises bother more than most people because I Hydrocephalus and almost daily headaches or migraines. For some disabilities, loud noises can be a big problem and for some people, you may see them plug their ear for something that doesn’t even seem that loud. When I was a child I hated the sound of a balloon popping because every time I balloon popped I would get a ringing in my ears. I still don’t like the sound of a balloon popping but the pain is not as bad as it was when I was a child so I am learning to manage because you can’t avoid balloon during parties! When you are disabled sometimes the noise at parties is a little too much because with certain conditions that noise is amplified and sounds twice as loud as it actually is and if you are hosting you can help disabled people by not cranking up your stereo as loud as it can get. If you are hosting and have no control of it but know the host you can ask them to turn down the music if you think they wouldn’t mind or bring noise-canceling headphones to help block some of the noise that may bother you.

Have an accessible location-  When you are physically disabled one of the first things disabled people notice when going to a public or family function is your event accessible? Can a full-time wheelchair user enter the facility without difficulty and can people with physical disabilities access with the same things abled people can? If there is stair is there an elevator for people who can’t walk up the stairs. Some disabled people can’t walk at all and even if it’s just one step getting out your chair to walk up that one step is not always possible so there always needs to be backup options like a ramp or an elevator if the party is on the second floor.

Thoroughly dry wet floors–  When you are physically disabled it is so difficult to attend a pool party because there are so many puddles of water and abled people keep treading in more without thinking how difficult it can be for disabled people. Some people really try to help by trying to dry up the water but let me help you understand by saying that laying a towel on the ground in a puddle of water and doing one small swipe is not helpful and you might as well do nothing at all. If you want to help disabled people from slipping thoroughly dry the floor and warn them when it’s wet so they know to be extra careful or if it’s an option allow them to go through another entrance that you will not. Disabled don’t people often don’t feel safe at parties involving water and that could change if abled people were more mindful of their actions when inviting disabled people to pool parties.

Make food and drinks more accessible–  When you are physically disabled picking things up can be a challenge especially if you walk with crutches and are doing it from the standing position. When I am sitting in my wheelchair I can usually grab things much easier because I don’t have to worry about holding my balance unless it is higher and out of my reach. Usually, when I go to family functions or some other public event I am not alone to face challenges but that is not always the case for all disabled people and some people don’t have someone that will go to events with them and are forced to figure out challenges on their own. Parties would be so much easier and enjoyable for the disabled if people didn’t have this terrible habit of putting all food and condiments towards the back of the table and put as much as they can at the front. If I am standing I will have a harder time grabbing something but usually, I can find a way to get what I want and if I can’t I know someone who can. Some disabilities like Muscular Dystrophy who have limited strength need things close to the front because even if technically you could reach it needs to be close because you’re unable to lift heavier things over your head.

Offer help to people who need it–  One thing that I really wish all stores and events, in general, would have more of is assistance! It would be very difficult to fully make your events one-hundred percent accessible for all disabilities but some aspects of accessibility can get a little ridiculous and can be addressed by simply making it mandatory to have assistance in all stores and at every event so if we were to need it was available. Going places is stressful for many disabled people because I can’t tell you how many times I have gone somewhere and there wasn’t a single person around to help me get something off a shelf and it’s so sad people don’t look at accessibility as a priority. Some disabled people like to do everything by themselves and don’t want help so you don’t want to be too pushy when asking if they need assistance because that can get annoying because we will ask but it should always be available.

Light the room appropriately – When considering lighting for a party there are good ideas and really bad ones that should not be considered because it can aggravate some medical conditions. Migraineurs are often triggered by brights like fluorescent lights and people with epilepsy can’t handle strobe lights or kind of flashing light because it can trigger seizures. You don’t have to listen to this recommendation but I highly suggest you take it seriously because some types of lighting can trigger attacks for some people putting them in the hospital and if you are responsible for letting that happen it will beat you up knowing that it could have been prevented if you would have just taken certain medical conditions into consideration.

Family functions for me are pretty accessible because my family knows my needs and the problem lies when I am out in public. Disabled people like to go out to public events just like abled people do but for us, it is difficult to enjoy because of inaccessibility and in many instances, we can’t even get through the door. If there is one thing you have as a business it should be an accessible entrance but so many fail to even get that right and it really saddens me how disabled people are forgotten when creating these events. Disabled people don’t expect you to make it accessible for all disabled people but we do expect you know the basics and if you don’t even know that it’s your responsibility to reach out to someone who has more knowledge. Disabled people are constantly thrown under the bus because no one is consulting with the disabled people and asking what they need by leaving abled people in charge so they do the bare minimum of what needs to be done.  Imagine not being able to attend an event with your friends that you have been waiting months for because you can’t get inside and completely relying on someone else to help take care of you now tell me that accessibility shouldn’t be prioritized. I can guarantee you wouldn’t want that privilege taken from you so how do you think it makes disabled people feel to have to deal with inaccessibility on a regular basis because people were lazy and didn’t want to figure out a way to make it easier. Disabled people just want the same things you do and we could have a lot of those same things if we lived in a world that was accessible but unfortunately, we don’t and until people see the problem I don’t think that will change anytime soon.  How have you made functions or large events easier for disabled people?

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