I suffer from Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) and enjoy getting out to events especially Christmas and New Year celebrations. I also get anxious thinking about wheelchair access. It’s disheartening when I am unable to make my own decision but am excluded from events due to lack of wheelchair access. This is my guide help make events wheelchair inclusive and includes the top five things I consider before attending an event.
I check the weather forecast paying particular attention to wind, rain, extreme high and low temperatures. I research shade and shelter options including trees, a marquee and indoor spaces.
Transport is also dependent on the weather. I want to minimise the amount of time from my transport to the venue.
The address should be on the advertising materials or invitations. I use my own knowledge, internet research and the knowledge of others to check the transport options available including disability parking and public transport. I pay attention to the wheelchair access at the local train station, if there are wheelchair accessible buses. I will also try to find out the distances from the transport option to the venue, the terrain and if it is uphill.
Venue Access & Surface
I will research the venue and either get in touch with the event organiser or the venue to check if it is on ground level or has access via ramps and/or lifts. It may not be obvious but there may be wheelchair access at the side or the back of the venue.
I will also consider the ground outside or flooring inside to see if it is flat and easy to push my wheelchair. I also like to know the distance required to push because it can be exhausting. I have difficulty pushing on carpet, grass, mud, sand and snow with my front wheels sinking. Mud, dirt and dust cause my hands and clothing to get dirty quickly too which is gross.
Seating & Catering
I research the style of seating including if there will be spaces for a wheelchair or if I have to transfer out of my wheelchair and if I will be able to see the event with others in front. It’s difficult when there are high tables and bar stools or no seats with other guests required to stand or sit on the ground. It’s great to have disability access areas.
Some catering styles are easier for wheelchair users than others. I find buffet style difficult to push my wheelchair and carry a plate of food. I would much prefer to have a meal brought to the table. High counters are also challenging because I often go unnoticed. Picnic situation with no tables can able be difficult because I have to hold a plate with one hand and eat with the other to avoid burning my lap.
I research if there are accessible bathrooms, how many, the facilities and where they are located. It’s awkward when I can’t fit my wheelchair and shut the door or can’t reach the sink to wash my hands.
I prefer to double-check even if someone else has already done the research.