How to ensure your holiday celebrations welcome people with disabilities

Experts offer tips for creating online or in-person celebrations that include people with hearing impairments, blindness and physical disabilities.

By Shelly BrisbinDecember 17, 2021 10:33 am, , ,

Holiday gatherings – whether they’re online or in-person – give us all a chance to catch up with friends, share a meal or just have a good time. The best of these celebrations include everyone, regardless of ability. Austin nonprofit Knowbility spends the year helping to create accessible web sites and other digital experiences. For the holidays, Knowbility staff turned their attention to providing tips for party planners and participants. This week, they produced a webinar with tips and even some accessible gift suggestions for people with disabilities.

“I think sometimes people are intimidated by a disability, and they’re afraid to acknowledge it,” said Knowbility executive director Sharron Rush. “But people with disabilities understand that they have disability, and it’s not a thing of shame. It’s not something to be awkward about.”

“When people host virtual celebrations, you want to make sure that the platform you using has the ability to provide closed captioning. So someone with a hearing disability can feel included, can participate in the conversations.” – Mariella Paulino

“One of the things that you’d always want to be sure that you do if you have a blind person in your group on an online meeting is begin by saying, ‘This is Sharron. And my opinion is this and this and this.’ And then when you’re finished, you signal that, ‘This is Sharron, and I’m done.’” – Sharron Rush

“If you’re inviting a blind person to an event, make sure that you give a quick introduction of the space that they’ll be in. There’s a table in the middle of the room. You’ve got a few sofas to the right. Something short like that is a great way to get your guests a little more comfortable with the space.” – Anthony Vasquez

“One of the things that everyone should absolutely do for the dinner table this year is they should have a clear mask that allows somebody with a healing disability to lip read.”  – Mariella Paulino

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