New Year: Accessible top tips

I have a love hate relationship with New Year’s Eve. As a kid it was an anticlimax after Christmas when the adults seemed to have more fun then me. As a teenager our family and friends hired a local hall and DJ, which meant we could have an inclusive party.

In my early twenties I hit the clubs and paid what now seems way too much for a typical night out. More recently I’ve slipped towards restaurants and bars, with bedtime creeping more from New Year’s morning to Midnight.

Nonetheless, I have never needed a major excuse or reason to party, and New Year’s Eve is as good an excuse as any. So here’s my tips for having an enjoyable and accessible night tomorrow.

1. Give yourself time

If this was a few weeks earlier I’d have suggested a little getaway. Following the Christmas mayhem a nice holiday, weekend or night away is great. You can leave your familiar home town, dump the chores and see new sights.

Whilst tomorrow is a bit tight, consider this option next year. For our other options it’s not too late.

2. Do something you enjoy

This may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people with a disability (or a person organising for a party including a disabled person) tend to decide by accessibility alone. Unless you like lift parties or ramp discos, please choose the right occasion first and check for access after.

You’d be surprised how many things are possible: bowling with those cool ramps; adapted sports like skiing; spacious nightclubs and so much more.

3. Do your research

Tackling the accessibility question can be approached from a couple of angles. Sometimes you find the venue or activity, check out the website and phone for your specific needs/questions. Other times the venues seem unaware or ignorant to access. In this instant just ‘ Google ‘ disability or accessible, followed by your activity. Often a mix works best.

Many accessibility websites have already viewed and reviewed venues and activities. Just be patient and don’t give up. The strongest way is to ask friends who may have done something similar before.

You can also #AskDH and we’ll share your query with our community.

4. Arrange all elements of the night

It’s all well and good identifying the restaurant, bar or activity you want to go to. However, don’t make the mistake of forgetting things like accessible transport, a Personal Care Assistant, enough budget and, of course, some new clothes and a sexy haircut.

5. Have a great time

I realised I’m often both nervous and tired on the night. With all the arrangements, the planning, the effort and still knowing things can go wrong meant, I’m not always able to relax and enjoy the event itself.

Unfortunately I can’t say it will all go plain sailing. I’ve been stuck queuing outside nightclubs freezing, turned away from pubs due to no access, left stranded without transport and had PAs too drunk to hoist me to bed.

Despite this I’ve had amazing travels, parties, conversations and memories. The problems didn’t kill me, some of them I learned from and all of them are in the past. The memories and experiences are carved in me forever.

This is why I’ll always ensure a good New Year’s Eve is had, despite the efforts involved, and carve out a few more memories in the near future too.

Happy New Year!

Martyn Sibley

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