Joyful Inclusive Holiday

The holiday season is often a joyous time. It allows us to spend time with loved ones and create wonderful memories. There is nothing that brings me more happiness than being surrounded by delicious food, and laughter, and exchanging gifts to show our gratitude towards each other.Christmas2

While I am grateful to have had enjoyable holidays in the past, I have come to realize that there are factors that can negatively influence a person’s enjoyment during the holiday. As someone who uses a wheelchair, I have been invited to numerous holiday gatherings like Friendsgiving and Christmas parties but have been unable to attend due to inaccessibility issues. Sometimes where I could attend, I found myself unable to fully enjoy the festivities due to limitations, such as inadequate space for my wheelchair. These instances were disheartening, and I am aware that I am not alone in facing such challenges.

I want to share a few tips about ways to make holiday celebrations more inclusive because people with disabilities deserve to be a part of the celebration too!

  1. Invite your family members and friends with disabilities:

Not all people with disabilities stay at home and never go out, contrary to a misconception. Many of us enjoy going out and spending time with people, particularly family and friends. Sometimes, we are not invited to events or choose not to attend due to concerns that the accommodations needed to assist us may be viewed as excessive. To foster a sense of inclusion for people with disabilities, it is important to convey appreciation and welcome. Additionally, it is beneficial to ask about the specific accommodations we may require to ensure our comfort and enjoyment at the event.

  1. Make sure to have accommodations:

To cater to everyone’s disability, the required accommodations may vary. It is crucial to seek guidance from family members and friends who have a disability regarding the specific accommodations they may need to attend the event. By doing so, you demonstrate that their presence is valued, and their disability will not pose any obstacles or deter your desire to have them participate.

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  1. Accessibility

Finding accessible places for wheelchair users can be challenging. The absence of accessibility can discourage disabled individuals from accepting invitations if they are unable to attend. To accommodate your disabled loved ones and friends, it is important to ensure that the venue of the event is accessible. This includes verifying that tables are at a suitable height for wheelchair users and confirming that the location is not too far for people with limited walking mobility. Additionally, ensuring there is ample space to move around easily is crucial to prevent accidents and injuries.

  1. Communicate

To ensure that your holiday gathering is inclusive for disabled loved ones and friends, the key is to engage in open communication with them. It is natural to feel apprehensive about potentially offending when inquiring about necessary accommodations. However, the most detrimental error one can commit in striving for inclusivity is to make assumptions instead of directly asking individuals about their specific needs. If you are uncertain about how to approach this conversation, a simple way to start is by expressing your sincere desire for them to join your party and asking what steps you can take to ensure the event is accessible for them.

  1. Have fun and Enjoy!

I strongly believe that when people without disabilities overcome their internal ableism, they will truly realize the enjoyable nature of people with disabilities. It is important to remember that disabled people are still individuals who appreciate the simple pleasures in life such as going out to eat, partying, laughing, and engaging in activities that people without disabilities also enjoy. While our disability is a part of our identity, it does not define us entirely. Embrace the joy of spending time with family members and friends with disabilities.

Happy Holidays!!


About the Author - Nila Morton

My name is Nila Morton. I’m a 23-year-old woman in a wheelchair. I have a bachelor's degree in Psychology and hope to become a Clinical Psychologist one day. I love being around my family and friends. I have a dog named Chloe, who is the light of my life. My favorite things to do are shopping, traveling, trying new restaurants, writing, and reading. I hope that every day I inspire other disabled people to not be ashamed of their disability and to live their life to the fullest. Instagram/TikTok: @nilanmorton

Nila Morton

The opinions expressed in these blogs are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $10,000,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.