Summer is a busy time for outdoor events such as festivals, markets, and concerts. For family caregivers and the people they care for, these events can be a great opportunity to get outside and spend a fun day out in the community. However, accessibility at events can sometimes be limited.
Accessibility at events, especially in a park or unpaved venue, can present challenges to caregivers and the people they care for, especially if they have any challenges with mobility.
With the introduction of provincial legislation surrounding accessibility requirements for venues and parks across Canada, there has been an increased focus on making accessibility an important consideration.
If you are a caregiver and you’re planning on attending an outdoor event with the person in your care, there are a number of accommodations you’ll want to consider ahead of time. It’s helpful to know the level of venue accessibility before attending so that you’re not surprised or disappointed when you get there.
Venue accessibility checklist
Accessible parking: This is one of the first things to consider when you are assessing the accessibility of the venue. Adequate accessible parking that is close to the entrance and has an unobstructed path into the venue helps to ease the stress of your arrival.
Accessible walkways: As you make your way into and around the venue or event you’ll also want to ensure that there are clear, wide walkways, preferably ones that are paved for wheelchair access. This is especially necessary if the person you care for uses a mobility aid such as a wheelchair, walker, or cane. Look out for tripping hazards that could be left on the walkway. Things like wires, curbs, potholes, or even loose trash could be a potential tripping hazard.
Seating and access to attractions: The whole point of taking the person in your care to the venue is to enjoy the event whether that is a festival, market, concert, or just a day in the park. In order to enjoy your day the venue should have accessible seating that provides access to the attractions. This may include designated seating areas or the placement of ramps throughout the venue in order to allow all guests, including those with mobility challenges, access to different areas of the venue.
Accessible washrooms: Accessible washrooms should have dedicated accessible toilet stalls that are large enough to accommodate mobility aids such as a wheelchair or a caregiver. They should also feature grab bars and an accessible-height sink. Washrooms should be conveniently located throughout the venue and easy to find.
Signage (Braille, Sign Language, Audio): Depending on the unique needs of the person in your care, signage that is large enough to read and offered in various formats can help the person in your care participate in the event. This may be a challenge for an outdoor venue, especially one that is temporary.
Disability access and inclusion
Depending on the type and location of an outdoor event or venue, there can be a wide range of varying disability and access inclusion features available.
There will always be some venues and outdoor events that are more easily accessible than others but it’s worth looking into ahead of time so that you and the person in your care can get out and enjoy events together.
Unless you’ve been to a particular venue in the past, it can be hard to know the level of venue accessibility before you get there.
In some cases you may be able to find contact information online that will connect you to the event planner. They will be able to answer your questions and give you a good idea of what to expect in terms of accessibility. In addition, many venues now have a lot of their accessibility features listed on their websites.
As a caregiver, you’re often more aware of the variety of accessibility needs.
Accessibility is more than just providing a wheelchair ramp. The person you’re caring for could have difficulty hearing or seeing, mobility issues, or even diagnosed with an “invisible disability” (a condition that is not always obvious to others but impairs some aspect of their life).
All of these conditions require diligence to ensure that both of you have an enjoyable time at an event. You may also find it helpful to read about tips when travelling with someone with mobility issues.