Photo of Stephanie in her kitchen. She is smiling and wearing a purple shirt that says "Access isn't optional" along with jeans and leopard print loafer style shoes. She is sitting in her Quantum Rehab power wheelchair using her iLevel seat elevation.

Hosting an Accessible Thanksgiving: Welcoming All to the Feast

Written by: Stephanie Woodward

Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude, reflection, and gathering with loved ones. It’s a holiday cherished by many, where the aroma of a sumptuous feast fills the air, and the promise of quality time with friends and family warms our hearts. However, to truly embrace the spirit of Thanksgiving, we must ensure that our celebrations are accessible to all. Let’s explore how to host an accessible Thanksgiving that welcomes and includes everyone.

1. Invitations with Inclusivity:

To begin, consider the accessibility of your invitations. Ensure that invitations are available in multiple formats, including print, electronic, and verbal invitations for those who may have difficulty reading. Make it clear that you are open to suggestions and accommodating any requests.

2. Choose an Accessible Venue:

If your home isn’t fully accessible, consider hosting Thanksgiving at a venue that is. Look for spaces with no steps or with ramps, wide doorways, and accessible restrooms. If you decide to host at your home, be prepared to make temporary adjustments to accommodate your guests.

3. Accessible Entryways:

For some homes, portable wheelchair ramps can provide access if there are steps or elevated entryways. Ensure that any makeshift ramps are sturdy and safe.

4. Seating Arrangements:

When arranging seating, consider the comfort and needs of all your guests. Ensure that there is space for wheelchairs or mobility devices at the dining table. Offer a variety of seating options, including chairs with and without armrests, and keep pathways clear.

5. Communication:

Prior to the event, engage with your guests to discuss their needs and preferences. This ensures that you can make the necessary accommodations.

6. Dietary Restrictions:

Be mindful of dietary restrictions and allergies. Communicate with your guests about their dietary needs and prepare a menu that caters to everyone. Label dishes clearly, so guests can easily identify what they can and cannot eat.

7. Safe and Navigable Space:

Ensure your home is well-lit to enhance visibility. Remove tripping hazards and clutter to create clear pathways for those using mobility devices.

8. Inclusive Activities:

Plan activities that are inclusive and enjoyable for all your guests. Whether it’s board games, storytelling, or watching a movie, make sure everyone can participate and enjoy the festivities.

9. Transportation:

Consider providing transportation options for guests who may have difficulty getting to your home. Arrange for accessible transportation or carpooling to make sure everyone can join the celebration.

10. Communicate Your Commitment:

Clearly communicate your commitment to accessibility in your Thanksgiving celebration. Let your guests know that you’ve taken steps to make the event as inclusive as possible, and that you’re open to feedback for future improvements.

Thanksgiving is a time of togetherness and reflection, and by ensuring that your celebration is accessible to all, you’re fostering an environment of love, warmth, and gratitude. The efforts you put into hosting an accessible Thanksgiving will not only make the day special for those with disabilities but also demonstrate the true spirit of the holiday – embracing and celebrating diversity, togetherness, and gratitude.

As you prepare your Thanksgiving feast and festivities, remember that a welcoming and accessible environment is the best way to express your gratitude for the presence of all your loved ones.