Someone said that life is a party. You join in after it’s started and leave before it’s finished.”stuck to me because it got me wondering about people like me who are on a wheelchair. How often did we get to a party in the first place? ~ Elsa Maxwell
When someone says LETS PARTY, do you feel an adrenaline rush? Ever wondered how it can be for people with special needs?
I work with Inclov which is an organisation that frequently organizes nightlife parties and meetups like the one in this video below:
I attended Inclov’s nightlife meetup last week at Kitty Su, The Lalit in Delhi. That experience has helped me with a few do’s and don’ts that will allow you to invite your special someone (with wheelchair or other disability) to your next party.
- First things first: To begin with, don’t be afraid to invite people with special needs to your party. It can be overwhelming to invite them over because their needs or requirement can be different but let me tell you a secret – they are scared too! All too often, people with disabilities are not invited to events or don’t end up going to one due to the embarrassment that follows due to them asking for a simple thing that will help them attend like ramps or accessible washrooms. So take that first step and personally invite them over. By telling them that their presence is valued, you will build a new level of trust and affection. For example, one of the biggest things that aging loved ones need is a ride. So help them find a carpool or get them an uber for pick and drop ensuring their safety is your priority.
- Information on the invite card: Often people with disability need to plan in advance about attending a party as they have to consider a lot of aspects like washroom, commute etc. You could make it a tad bit easier for them by mentioning a line about the accessible accommodation in the RSVP invitation. By doing this you are already letting your guest know that they are welcomed.
- Physical access: Most of the public places in India are not accessible to people with disability and it can be challenge to find a party venue of your choice and budget! I recommend you take a tour of the venue ahead of time and ensure that it has a ground level entrance or ramp, an elevator if it’s upstairs, and lastly, accessible bathrooms for both genders. You would want everyone to have fun so do ensure that the games are accessible too.
- Food is the most important thing at a party! Keeping in mind the special dietary requirements for people with Celiac disease or those who are lacto intolerant could be another way to have people tell you ‘cant wait for the next one’ on their way out .
- Addressing attitude: Addressing the awkwardness is the key to making a pleasant experience for all the guests at your party. People can feel clueless or overwhelmed when they see someone with disability. You could start by addressing the group with an inspirational story or having the person with disability talk about himself/herself to break the ice.
- Asking people to co- host the party: If the party is a mess, you would have someone to blame! Jokes apart, asking a friend or a volunteer help you with organizing the party, especially if it is a big group could be a good idea to get your support systems in place.
- Sensory overload awareness: When you think of parties; you think of loud music. flashing disco lights etc.in other words, the sensory overload is thrilling. For some people with disabilities, sensory overload can be overwhelming. Offering opportunities for your guests to take a break, perhaps in a quiet room away from the crowd would be a good idea especially for person with cerebral palsy having strong startled reflex. Some venues may also have an options of turning down the music or minimizing stimulation which can be considered too.
- Communication is the key: People come to a party to interact, make friends and get to know one another. If you have friends who communicate differently i.e through sign language, worry not! Installing free Dragon Software in your iPhone can enable you to speak with someone who is deaf as it instantly transcribes what you are saying. Having an sign language interpreter can be worthy too t, as all the people can communicate and maybe learn a little sign language! Remember to speak directly to an adult whether s/he is verbal or not.
- Reading, Cognitive Access and Vision Issues: Adults with cognitive, learning disabilities or vision impairments might not be able to read the menu or instructions for a scavenger hunt. Pictures and verbal instructions are useful. You can also pair adults who can help each other. Make sure you always tell someone who can’t see or read what they will need or want to know.
- Enjoy the party! Don’t let inclusion stress you out. If you are reading this list and considering these tips, you’re already on your way to ensuring this world is for all! Stay positive, smile and throw that PARTY!
If this article got you curious to know what a party with people dancing on wheels look like, we urge you to see the video of our Inclov nightlife meetups in India
To know more, visit www.inclov.com