The holidays are an exciting time and they’re just about upon us, with Thanksgiving kicking off the season! While we have a lot to be grateful for, it’s easy to become stressed when planning holiday gatherings and lose sight of what really matters during these special times. If you have a friend or family member who uses a wheelchair or mobility scooter and they are coming to your Thanksgiving gathering, you may worry that your gathering may not be accessible. It is imperative to plan ahead when it comes to hosting an event. The same thing goes for hosting an event with wheelchair users or mobility scooter users. While you can’t go remodel your house with just a few weeks to go, there are some other small adjustments you can make to ensure that your gathering is accessible for all.
Is Your Home Accessible?
Both power wheelchair users and scooter users may run into some issues when trying to navigate entrances with steps. It may be difficult for them to go into different rooms when the doorways are not wide enough. One thing you can do is place rubber wheelchair ramps over thresholds. In addition to providing a safe way for electric wheelchairs to cross thresholds and small steps, they are easy to install, slip resistant and affordable.
Some other factors to look at, if you are considering hosting at your home, would be:
- Can a power wheelchair or mobility scooter fit through the doorway?
- Do you have carpet or hardwood flooring?
- Is there enough space in each room for a wheelchair or scooter to do a 360-degree turn?
Sizes in motorized wheelchairs and electric scooters vary, as well as their turning radius, so we suggest asking the wheelchair user or scooter user which model they have. For instance, the Go-Go scooter line is our smallest line of scooters, but there is a difference in turning radius if your loved one drives a 3-wheel scooter vs a 4-wheel scooter.
An Alternative to Hosting at Home
If you find that your house is not accessible, another great option would be to schedule your get together in a public place. Consider having your celebration at a restaurant. Some restaurants have a party room with open space that guests can rent out. Keeping the same criteria in mind as when you were evaluating if your house was accessible, try to find a place that has an entrance without steps and that is wide enough for a power wheelchair to enter. Rather than hosting, maybe you all prefer to enjoy a meal out together. Either way, make sure that the restaurant is wheelchair accessible first!
Be Mindful of Where You Place Things
Whether you are hosting your accessible gathering at home or elsewhere, it’s important that you are mindful of the environment. If you are at home, consider where you place decorations to make sure there’s still clear paths for a person in a mobility device to get through. It is also important to think about where you place your food, whether you are dining at home or out. Placing food on bars or high-top tables can make it very difficult or impossible for some wheelchair users to reach it if they do not have a Jazzy Air® 2 wheelchair! Also, to ensure that everyone has ample open space to mingle, we suggest moving any tables with refreshments to the edges of the room.